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E. Knop, N. Knop, A. Zhivov, U. Pleyer, P. Rieck, K. Velhagen, J. Stave, R. Guthoff; Detection of M-Cells in Rabbit Conjunctival Lymphoid Follicles (CALT) by Confocal in vivo Microscopy (RLSM). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):5309.
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The ocular surface is equipped with a mucosal immune sys-tem, the Eye-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (EALT). An important cellular component of this are M-cells that serve for the transport of luminal anti-gens to the lymphatic cells inside the tissue. Since they can so far only be detected by elaborated histological methods it was aimed to show them by simple in confocal in-vivo microscopy (Rostock Laser Scanning Micro-scope, RLSM).
The nasal follicle zone of the lower tarsal conjunctiva from normal rabbits (3) was investigated by RLSM and compared to histologi-cal and immunohistochemical (6), as well as scanning (SEM, 4) and transmission (TEM, 4) electron microscopic findings.
The prominent roundish lymphoid follicles of the rabbit conjunc-tiva were easily detectable by RLSM. The overlying follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) consisted of bright and dark cells with brighter outline similar to SEM findings. Groups of lymphocytes could be differentiated within spaces of the superficial cells and were covered by a thin superfi-cial cytoplasmic plate that was frequently too thin to be seen in RLSM. These spaces could be confluent into large cavernous rooms as similarly observed in SEM. The basement membrane area underneath the epithe-lium appeared as a bright zone with dark spots corresponding to holes for lymphocyte transmigration as seen in TEM. This morphology corresponds to the ultrastructural composition of mucosal M-cells which contain lym-phocytes within infoldings of their cytoplasm.
RLSM of the ocular surface offers a simple method to identify follicles and even details of the FAE-composition such as antigen transporting M-cells. This approach may offer further progress in the func-tional investigation of the eye-associated lymphoid tissue (EALT), includ-ing M-cells, that is an important component of ocular surface immune protection.
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