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Ocular immune privilege: nature's strategy for preserving vision

Jerry Y. Niederkorn
From: Science & Medicine: Volume 9 Number 6: Page 320 (December 2003)

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Abstract: It has long been known that the anterior chamber of the eye permits the survival of foreign tissue and tumor grafts, a phenomenon that was believed to result from sequestration of intraocular antigens from systemic lymphoid tissues. A clearer picture of ocular immune privilege is now emerging that involves an array of local anatomic, physiologic, and immunoregulatory factors. Ocular fluid contains a variety of immunosuppressive and immunoregulatory factors that suppress T-cell proliferation and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Fas ligands, coating the interior of the eye, induce apoptosis of infiltrating inflammatory cells. Antigens entering the eye induce an immune deviation termed ACAID in which Th1 responses such as delayed-type hypersensitivity are suppressed. Suppression of these inflammatory responses is an important adaptation for preventing immune-mediated injury to ocular tissues that have little or no capacity to regenerate.

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