Publications by authors named "Tat Fong Ng"

23 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Melanocortin receptor agonists suppress experimental autoimmune uveitis.

Exp Eye Res 2022 05 20;218:108986. Epub 2022 Feb 20.

Department of Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, 72 East Concord St., Boston, MA, 02118, United States. Electronic address:

The melanocortin system plays an essential role in the regulation of immune activity. The anti-inflammatory microenvironment of the eye is dependent on the expression of the melanocortin-neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH). In addition, the melanocortin system may have a role in retinal development and retinal cell survival under conditions of retinal degeneration. We have found that treating experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) with α-MSH suppresses retinal inflammation. Also, this augmentation of the melanocortin system promotes immune tolerance and protection of the retinal structure. The benefit of α-MSH-therapy appears to be dependent on different melanocortin receptors. Therefore, we treated EAU mice with α-MSH-analogs with different melanocortin-receptor targets. This approach demonstrated which melanocortin-receptors suppress inflammation, preserve retinal structure, and induce immune tolerance in uveitis. At the chronic stage of EAU the mice were injected twice 1 day apart with 50 μg of α-MSH or an α-MSH-analog. The α-MSH-analogs were a pan-agonist PL8331, PL8177 (potent MC1r-only agonist), PL5000 (a pan-agonist with no MC5r functional activity), MT-II (same as PL5000) and PG901 (MC5r agonist, but also an antagonist to MC3r, and MC4r). Clinical EAU scores were measured until resolution in the α-MSH-treated mice, when the eyes were collected for histology, and spleen cells collected for retinal-antigen-stimulated cytokine production. Significant suppression of EAU was seen with α-MSH or PL8331 treatment. This was accompanied with significant preservation of retinal structure. A similar effect was seen in EAU-mice that were treated with PL8177, except the suppression of EAU was temporary. In EAU mice treated with PL5000, MTII, or PG901, there was no suppression of EAU with a significant loss in whole retina and outer-nuclear layer thickness. There was significant suppression of IL-17 with induction of IL-10 by retinal-antigen stimulated spleen T cells from EAU mice treated with α-MSH, PL8331, PL8177, or PL5000, but not from EAU mice treated with MT-II, or PG901. Our previous studies show the melanocortin system's importance in maintaining ocular immune privilege and that α-MSH-treatment accelerates recovery and induces retinal-antigen-specific regulatory immunity in EAU. Our current results show that this activity is centered around MC1r and MC5r. In addition, the results suggest that a therapeutic potential to target MC1r and MC5r together to suppress uveitis induces regulatory immunity with potentially maintaining a normal retinal structure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exer.2022.108986DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9050930PMC
May 2022

The Role of Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells in Regulation of Macrophages/Microglial Cells in Retinal Immunobiology.

Front Immunol 2021 13;12:724601. Epub 2021 Aug 13.

Department of Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States.

The ocular tissue microenvironment is immune privileged and uses several mechanisms of immunosuppression to prevent the induction of inflammation. Besides being a blood-barrier and source of photoreceptor nutrients, the retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) regulate the activity of immune cells within the retina. These mechanisms involve the expression of immunomodulating molecules that make macrophages and microglial cells suppress inflammation and promote immune tolerance. The RPE have an important role in ocular immune privilege to regulate the behavior of immune cells within the retina. Reviewed is the current understanding of how RPE mediate this regulation and the changes seen under pathological conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.724601DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8414138PMC
December 2021

Extracellular Soluble Membranes from Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Mediate Apoptosis in Macrophages.

Cells 2021 05 13;10(5). Epub 2021 May 13.

Department of Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.

A central characterization of retinal immunobiology is the prevention of proinflammatory activity by macrophages. The retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPEs) are a major source of soluble anti-inflammatory factors. This includes a soluble factor that induces macrophage apoptosis when the activity of the immunomodulating neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) is neutralized. In this manuscript, isolated extracellular soluble membranes (ESMs) from primary RPE were assayed to see if they could be the soluble mediator of apoptosis. Our results demonstrated that RPE ESMs mediated the induction of macrophage apoptosis that was suppressed by α-MSH. In contrast, the RPE line ARPE-19, cultured under conditions that induce similar anti-inflammatory activity to primary RPEs, did not activate apoptosis in the macrophages. Moreover, only the ESMs from primary RPE cultures, and not those from the ARPE-19 cell cultures, expressed mFasL. The results demonstrate that RPE ESMs are a soluble mediator of apoptosis and that this may be a mechanism by which the RPEs select for the survival of α-MSH-induced suppressor cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells10051193DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8153131PMC
May 2021

Melanocortin 5 Receptor Expression and Recovery of Ocular Immune Privilege after Uveitis.

Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2021 Feb 22:1-11. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Department of Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

: The therapeutic use of the RPE-neuropeptide α-MSH suppresses experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU). This suppression is partially through the α-MSH melanocortin 5 receptor (MC5r). Therefore, we examined the possible role of MC5r-expression in the recovery of RPE suppression of phagolysosome-activation in macrophages following α-MSH-treatment of EAU: The conditioned media of cultured in situ RPE-eyecup from α-MSH-treated EAU wild-type and MC5r(-/-) mice were used to treat macrophages to assay for phagolysosome activation.: MC5r(-/-) mice treated with α-MSH recovered from EAU, but with greater retinal damage, and the RPE suppressed phagolysosome activation in wild type but not in MC5r(-/-) macrophages. In addition, α-MSH did not suppress phagolysosome activation in MC5r(-/-) macrophages, and resting-MC5r(-/-) macrophages had augmented phagocytic activity.: α-MSH treatment of EAU mediates a MC5r-dependent recovery of RPE suppression of phagolysosome activation in macrophages possibly altering antigen processing and presentation. Also, MC5r-expression helps protect the retina from inflammatory damage. In addition, MC5r-expression is important in the homeostatic maintenance of phagosome-maturation within macrophages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09273948.2020.1849735DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8380264PMC
February 2021

The Neuropeptides of Ocular Immune Privilege, α-MSH and NPY, Suppress Phagosome Maturation in Macrophages.

Immunohorizons 2018 Nov;2(10):314-323

Department of Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118.

The ocular microenvironment has evolutionarily adapted several mechanisms of immunosuppression to minimize the induction of inflammation. Neuropeptides produced by the retinal pigment epithelial cells regulate macrophage activity. Two neuropeptides, α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α -MSH) and neuropeptide Y (NPY), are constitutively expressed by the retinal pigment epithelial cells. Together these two neuropeptides induce anti-inflammatory cytokine production in endotoxin-stimulated macrophages and suppress phagocytosis of unopsonized bioparticles. These neuropeptides do not suppress the phagocytosis of opsonized bioparticles; however, they do suppress phagolysosome activation or formation. In this report, we studied the possibility that α-MSH with NPY suppress phagosome maturation within macrophages using opsonized OVA-coated magnetic beads to isolate and analyze the phagosomes. The magnetic bead-containing intercellular vesicles were isolated and assayed for Rab5, Rab7, LAMP1, Ia, and OVA. The macrophages cotreated with α-MSH and NPY were suppressed in Rab7 recruitment to the phagosome with suppression in LAMP1 expression but not in Ia expression. The results demonstrated that the α-MSH/NPY cotreatment suppressed phagosome maturation. In addition, the a-MSH/NPY-cotreated macrophages were suppressed in their ability to Ag stimulate CD4 T cell proliferation. These results imply a potential mechanism of ocular immune privilege to divert Ag processing to prevent autoreactive effector T cells from binding their target cognate Ag within the ocular microenvironment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/immunohorizons.1800049DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6319950PMC
November 2018

Negative regulators that mediate ocular immune privilege.

J Leukoc Biol 2018 Feb 12. Epub 2018 Feb 12.

Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The ocular microenvironment has adapted several negative regulators of inflammation to maintain immune privilege and health of the visual axis. Several constitutively produced negative regulators within the eye TGF-β2, α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH), Fas ligand (FasL), and PD-L1 standout because of their capacity to influence multiple pathways of inflammation, and that they are part of promoting immune tolerance. These regulators demonstrate the capacity of immune privilege to prevent the activation of inflammation, and to suppress activation of effector immune cells even under conditions of ocular inflammation induced by endotoxin and autoimmune disease. In addition, these negative regulators promote and expand immune cells that mediate regulatory and tolerogenic immunity. This in turn makes the immune cells themselves negative regulators of inflammation. This provides for a greater understanding of immune privilege in that it includes both molecular and cellular negative regulators of inflammation. This would mean that potentially new approaches to the treatment of autoimmune disease can be developed through the use of molecules and cells as negative regulators of inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/JLB.3MIR0817-337RDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240388PMC
February 2018

Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Suppress Phagolysosome Activation in Macrophages.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2017 02;58(2):1266-1273

Department of Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

Purpose: The eye is an immune-privileged microenvironment that has adapted several mechanisms of immune regulation to prevent inflammation. One of these potential mechanisms is retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) altering phagocytosis in macrophages.

Methods: The conditioned media of RPE eyecups from eyes of healthy mice and mice with experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) were used to treat primary macrophage phagocytizing pHrodo bacterial bioparticles. In addition, the neuropeptides were depleted from the conditioned media of healthy RPE eyecups and used to treat phagocytizing macrophages. The conditioned media from healthy and EAU RPE eyecups were assayed for IL-6, and IL-6 was added to the healthy conditioned media, and neutralized in the EAU conditioned media. The macrophages were treated with the conditioned media and assayed for fluorescence. The macrophages were imaged, and the fluorescence intensity, relative to active phagolysosomes, was measured. Also, the macrophages were assayed using fluorescent viability dye staining.

Results: The conditioned media from healthy, but not from EAU RPE eyecups suppressed phagolysosome activation. Depletion of the neuropeptides alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone and neuropeptide Y from the healthy RPE eyecup conditioned media resulted in macrophage death. In the EAU RPE eyecup conditioned media was 0.96 ± 0.18 ng/mL of IL-6, and when neutralized the conditioned media suppressed phagolysosome activation.

Conclusions: The healthy RPE through soluble molecules, including alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone and neuropeptide Y, suppresses the activation of the phagolysosome in macrophages. In EAU, the IL-6 produced by the RPE promotes the activation of phagolysosomes in macrophages. These results demonstrate that under healthy conditions, RPE promotes an altered pathway of phagocytized material in macrophages with implications on antigen processing and clearance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-21082DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5341620PMC
February 2017

Influence of subretinal fluid in advanced stage retinopathy of prematurity on proangiogenic response and cell proliferation.

Mol Vis 2014 21;20:881-93. Epub 2014 Jun 21.

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Purpose: The clinical phenotype of advanced stage retinopathy of prematurity (ROP, stages 4 and 5) cannot be replicated in an animal model. To dissect the molecular events that can lead up to advanced ROP, we examined subretinal fluid (SRF) and surgically dissected retrolental membranes from patients with advanced ROP to evaluate its influences on cell proliferation, angiogenic properties, and macrophage polarity.

Methods: We compared our findings to SRF collected from patients with uncomplicated rhegmatogenous retinal detachment (RD) without proliferative vitreoretinopathy and surgically dissected epiretinal membrane from eyes with macular pucker. All subretinal fluid samples were equalized for protein. The angiogenic potential of SRF from ROP eyes was measured using a combination of capillary cord formation in a fibrin clot assay, and its proliferative effect was tested with a DNA synthesis of human retinal microvascular endothelial cells. Findings were compared with SRF collected from participants with uncomplicated rhegmatogenous RD without proliferative vitreoretinopathy. The ability of SRF to induce nitric oxide production was measured in vitro using murine J774A.1 macrophages. Cytokine profiles of SRF from ROP and RD eyes were measured using a multienzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Fluorescent immunohistochemistry of retrolental membranes from ROP was performed to detect the presence of leukocytes and the composition of tissue macrophages using markers for M1 and M2 differentiation.

Results: The cytokine composition in SRF revealed that in ROP, not only were several proangiogenic factors were preferentially elevated but also the profile of proinflammatory factors was also increased compared to the RD eyes. SRF from ROP eyes supported cell proliferation and endothelial cord formation while SRF from RD eyes had inhibitory effects. SRF from eyes with ROP but not RD robustly induced nitric oxide production in macrophages. Furthermore, fluorescent immunostaining revealed a preponderance of M1 over M2 macrophages in retrolental fibrous membranes from ROP eyes. The cytokine profile and biologic properties of SRF in ROP promote a proangiogenic environment, which supports the maintenance and proliferation of fibrous membranes associated with advanced stages of ROP. In contrast, SRF from RD eyes exhibits a suppressive environment for endothelial cell proliferation and angiogenesis.

Conclusions: Our investigation demonstrates that the microenvironment in advanced ROP eyes is proangiogenic and proinflammatory. These findings suggest that management of advanced ROP should not be limited to the surgical removal of the fibrovascular membranes and antiangiogenic therapy but also directed to anti-inflammatory therapy and to promote M2 activation over M1 activity.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4067231PMC
September 2014

Self-expanding polyurethane polymer improves survival in a model of noncompressible massive abdominal hemorrhage.

J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2013 Jun;74(6):1462-7

Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.

Background: Intracavitary noncompressible hemorrhage remains a significant cause of preventable death on the battlefield. Two dynamically mixed and percutaneously injected liquids were engineered to create an in situ self-expanding polymer foam to facilitate hemostasis in massive bleeding. We hypothesized that intraperitoneal injection of the polymer could achieve conformal contact with sites of injury and improve survival in swine with lethal hepatoportal injury.

Methods: High grade hepatoportal injury was created in a closed abdominal cavity, resulting in massive noncoagulopathic, noncompressible hemorrhage. Animals received either standard battlefield fluid resuscitation (control, n = 12) or fluid resuscitation plus intraperitoneal injection of hemostatic foam (polymer, n = 15) and were monitored for 3 hours. Blood loss was quantified, and all hepatoportal injuries were inspected for consistency.

Results: Before intervention, all animals initially experienced severe, profound hypotension and near-arrest (mean arterial pressure at 10 minutes, 21 [5.3] mm Hg). Overall survival at 3 hours was 73% in the polymer group and 8% in the control group (p = 0.001). Median survival time was more than 150 minutes in the polymer group versus 23 minutes (19-41.5 minutes) in the control group (p < 0.001), and normalized blood loss in the polymer group was 0.47 (0.30) g/kg per minute versus 3.0 (1.3) g/kg per minute in the controls (p = < 0.001). All hepatoportal injuries were anatomically similar, and the polymer had conformal contact with injured tissues.

Conclusion: Intraperitoneal polymer injection during massive noncompressible hemorrhage reduces blood loss and improves survival in a lethal, closed-cavity, hepatoportal injury model. Chronic safety and additional efficacy studies in other models are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/TA.0b013e31828da937DOI Listing
June 2013

Protection of bovine chondrocyte phenotype by heat inactivation of allogeneic serum in monolayer expansion cultures.

Ann Biomed Eng 2013 May 3;41(5):894-903. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

Soft Tissue Biophysics Laboratory, Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Cartilage defects can be addressed with replacement strategies such as autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI). Expansion of autologous chondrocytes in vitro is an essential step to obtain the necessary cell numbers required for ACI. A major problem with this approach is dedifferentiation of chondrocytes during expansion, resulting in cells with fibroblast-like features. These cells generate cartilage tissue with fibrotic instead of hyaline characteristics. The use of serum is a common feature in most expansion protocols and a potential factor contributing to the dedifferentiation process. The aim of this study was to assess if heat inactivation of serum used in the expansion medium might be a valid approach to generate cells with an improved phenotype and in relevant numbers. We used bovine chondrocyte expansion cultures incubated with heat inactivated allogeneic serum (HIFBS) as a model system. We here show that heat inactivation protects the differentiated phenotype of chondrocytes compared to cultures with regular serum. This is not only true for primary cultures but holds up after two passages. Moreover, using relatively low cell seeding densities, clinically relevant cell numbers can already be reached after the first passage in cultures with HIFBS. In short we here introduce a simple way to improve cell quality while generating relevant amounts of cells during monolayer expansion of bovine chondrocytes in a relative short time period. Our results could have wider implications when translated to the expansion of human chondrocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10439-012-0732-zDOI Listing
May 2013

Thrombospondin-1-mediated regulation of microglia activation after retinal injury.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2009 Nov 3;50(11):5472-8. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Purpose: Thrombospondin (TSP)-1 has been demonstrated to play a vital role in immune privilege. The functional phenotype of ocular antigen-presenting cells that contributes to the immune privilege status of the eye is dependent on their expression of TSP-1. Microglia, the local antigen-presenting cells in the retina, undergo rapid activation in response to injury and have the ability to produce both proinflammatory and regenerative neurotrophic factors. In this study, the authors examined TSP-1 as a potential regulator of these phenotype of microglia activated in response to retinal injury.

Methods: Expression of markers associated with activated microglia were examined by immunofluorescent staining and semiquantitative real-time PCR analysis of retina derived from WT or TSP-1 null mice at various time intervals after light- or laser-induced retinal injury.

Results: In the absence of TSP-1, microglia in uninjured retina express major histocompatibility complex class II and migrate to the outer layers of the retina. Constitutively increased expression of activated microglia-derived inflammatory molecules such as TNF-alpha and iNOS is detectable in TSP-1 null retina compared with WT controls. After both light-induced and laser-induced retinal injury, enhanced migration of microglia is detected in TSP-1 null retina, and these microglia express markers associated with a proinflammatory phenotype. Compared with WT retina, TSP-1 null retina fails to recover from the laser-induced injury, resulting in irreversible damage.

Conclusions: TSP-1 supports an anti-inflammatory phenotype of microglia in the retina and promotes recovery from injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.08-2877DOI Listing
November 2009

In vitro generated autoimmune regulatory T cells enhance intravitreous allogeneic retinal graft survival.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2007 Nov;48(11):5112-7

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Purpose: The authors demonstrated that in vitro-generated alpha-melanocyte stimulated hormone (MSH)-induced Treg cells specific to ocular autoantigen suppress ocular autoimmune disease in vivo when adoptively transferred. They examined the possibility of using these ocular autoantigen-specific Treg cells to promote the survival of a retinal allograft placed in the mouse vitreous.

Methods: Enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-C57BL/6 neonatal retinal microaggregates were injected into the vitreous of B10-RIII mice before the adoptive transfer of interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP; an ocular antigen) or ovalbumin (OVA)-specific alpha-MSH-induced Treg cells. GFP transplants were imaged in vivo on days 7 and 12. In addition, on day 12, the eyes were cryosectioned and immunostained with a panel of neuronal and immune cell markers.

Results: GFP allografts underwent no detectable changes in size on days 7 and 12 in the B10-RIII mice injected with IRBP-specific Treg cells; however, mice that received OVA-specific Treg cells or no Treg cells experienced remarkable reductions in graft size on day 12. Only one quarter of the original size was seen. Using neuronal-specific markers, immunohistochemistry showed that the architecture of the retinal allografts in the IRBP Treg cell-injected group had intact rosettes and neuronal cells on the outermost layer, whereas the allografts in the OVA Treg cell-injected mice were disorganized. Immune cell-specific markers demonstrated that Treg cells and activated microglial cells were found in the retinal allografts of the mice injected with IRBP Treg cells, but not in the retinal allografts of the OVA Treg-injected mice.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that adoptive transfer of alpha-MSH-generated IRBP-specific Treg cells promotes retinal allograft survival and development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.07-0175DOI Listing
November 2007

Creating an immune-privileged site using retinal progenitor cells and biodegradable polymers.

Stem Cells 2007 Jun;25(6):1552-9

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, 20 Staniford Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

We describe the creation of local immune privilege (IP) using retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) and biodegradable polymers. Murine RPCs were seeded on poly(lactic-coglycolic acid) polymers to generate composite grafts. Composites or RPCs alone were transplanted into allogeneic kidney capsules. Grafts survived at all time points, differentiating into neurons and astrocytes. Upon treatment with interferon gamma (IFNgamma), major histocompatibility complex antigens were upregulated. Although 10% of IFNgamma-treated RPC grafts survived 14 days, 66% of the IFNgamma-treated composites survived in part by producing immune suppressive factors transforming growth factor-beta2, Fas ligand, and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. The composites were assayed for delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) by seeding composites with antigen-presenting cells incubated with ovalbumin. This resulted in suppression of ovalbumin-specific DTH, indicating that composite grafts consisting of biodegradable polymers and central nervous system progenitor cells can be used to generate local IP. This technology may be used to promote the survival of nonprivileged grafts (e.g., pancreas, liver, or skin). Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/stemcells.2006-0780DOI Listing
June 2007

Retinal transplantation.

Chem Immunol Allergy 2007 ;92:300-316

Department of Ophthalmology, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. USA.

Degenerative diseases of the retina afflict millions of Americans, and very few effective treatments are available at present. Transplantation of solid tissue or stem cell grafts represents a promising, albeit challenging, approach to replace photoreceptor cells lost due to injury or disease. However, there remain a number of formidable obstacles to be overcome before these techniques can be applied in a clinical setting. Foremost of these challenges is immunological acceptance and survival of the graft. We will refer to studies performed in collaboration with J. Wayne Streilein over the past decade that address this issue. The immune-privileged status of the subretinal space, as well as the inherent immune privilege of retinal pigment epithelium, neuronal retina and neural stem cells will be described. The goal of these studies is to gain a better understanding of the immunological properties of both the donor tissues and recipient graft site in retinal transplantation. This information will allow for the development of strategies to improve graft outcome and lead to successful repair of the diseased eye.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000099280DOI Listing
March 2007

B7+ iris pigment epithelium induce CD8+ T regulatory cells; both suppress CTLA-4+ T cells.

J Immunol 2006 Jan;176(1):118-27

Department of Ophthalmology, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Ocular pigment epithelia contribute to immune privilege by suppressing T cell activation and converting T cells into regulatory T regulatory cells (Tregs) that inhibit bystander T cell activation. Iris pigment epithelium (IPE) does so through direct cell-cell contact with naive T cells, and this suppressive contact is via interactions between B7 expressed constitutively on IPE cells and CTLA-4 expressed on a subpopulation of CD8+ T cells. We have now examined whether TGFbeta is required in this process. We report that IPE produces both soluble and membrane-bound active TGFbeta, but that only the latter is actually delivered to CD8+ T cells. In turn, these T cells become IPE Tregs by up-regulating their own expression of B7-1/B7-2 and soluble and membrane-bound TGFbeta. IPE Tregs through their expression of B7 are able to engage CTLA-4+ bystander T cells, and thus precisely, target delivery of membrane-bound TGFbeta. We propose that this mechanism of suppression via TGFbeta ensures that soluble active TGFbeta is not released into the ocular microenvironment where it can have unregulated and deleterious effects, including elevation of intraocular pressure and development of glaucoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.176.1.118DOI Listing
January 2006

Multipotent retinal progenitors express developmental markers, differentiate into retinal neurons, and preserve light-mediated behavior.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2004 Nov;45(11):4167-73

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Purpose: To use progenitor cells isolated from the neural retina for transplantation studies in mice with retinal degeneration.

Methods: Retinal progenitor cells from postnatal day 1 green fluorescent protein-transgenic mice were isolated and characterized. These cells can be expanded greatly in culture and express markers characteristic of neural progenitor cells and/or retinal development.

Results: After they were grafted to the degenerating retina of mature mice, a subset of the retinal progenitor cells developed into mature neurons, including presumptive photoreceptors expressing recoverin, rhodopsin, or cone opsin. In rho-/- hosts, there was rescue of cells in the outer nuclear layer (ONL), along with widespread integration of donor cells into the inner retina, and recipient mice showed improved light-mediated behavior compared with control animals.

Conclusions: These findings have implications for the treatment of retinal degeneration, in which neuronal replacement and photoreceptor rescue are major therapeutic goals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.04-0511DOI Listing
November 2004

Roles of thrombospondin-1 and -2 in regulating corneal and iris angiogenesis.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2004 Apr;45(4):1117-24

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Purpose: Thrombospondin (TSP)-1 and -2 are important antiangiogenic factors thought to be involved in maintaining corneal avascularity (angiogenic privilege). This study was undertaken to investigate whether deficiencies of these factors altered developmental and inflammation-induced angiogenesis in the cornea and developmental angiogenesis of the iris of mice.

Methods: Expression of TSP-1 and -2 mRNA and protein was assayed in cornea and iris stroma by RT-PCR and Western blot. Corneas and irides of TSP-1(-/-), TSP-2(-/-), and TSP-1,2(-/-) mice aged 2, 3, and 6 months, and wild-type control mice, were analyzed for spontaneous angiogenesis biomicroscopically, histologically, and with CD31 immunohistochemistry. The mouse model of suture-induced, inflammatory corneal neovascularization was used to evaluate the lack of TSP-1,2 and both TSPs on induced-corneal angiogenesis. Seven days after intrastromal placement of three 11-0 sutures, vascularized areas were analyzed morphometrically on CD31-stained corneal flatmounts.

Results: Corneas and irises from normal mouse eyes constitutively expressed TSP-1 and -2 mRNAs and proteins. Corneas of TSP-1(-/-), -2(-/-), and -1,2(-/-) mice displayed no evidence of spontaneous developmental-postnatal angiogenesis, although irises of these mice contained significantly increased iris vessel density compared with wild-type animals (P < 0.01). One week after suturing, corneas of all TSP(-/-) mice had significantly greater corneal angiogenesis than those of control mice (P < 0.05). TSP-1(-/-) had a significantly greater effect on induced corneal neovascularization than did TSP-2(-/-), with the opposite being the case in developmental iris angiogenesis (P < 0.01).

Conclusions: Corneal avascularity during development is redundantly regulated, shown by the fact that lack of the antiangiogenic factors TSP-1 and/or -2 resulted in no spontaneous corneal angiogenesis. By contrast, TSP-1, more than TSP-2, helps to suppress inflammation-induced corneal angiogenesis postnatally, implying that angiogenic privilege in the cornea is actively maintained.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.03-0940DOI Listing
April 2004

CTLA-4+CD8+ T cells that encounter B7-2+ iris pigment epithelial cells express their own B7-2 to achieve global suppression of T cell activation.

J Immunol 2004 Apr;172(7):4184-94

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Pigment epithelial (PE) cells cultured from the eye possess the novel property of suppressing TCR-dependent activation of T cells in vitro. Iris PE (IPE) cells accomplish this suppression by a direct cell contact mechanism in which B7-2 expressed by the PE cells interacts with CTLA-4 on responding T cells. Because CTLA-4 expression is constitutively expressed on a very small proportion of naive splenic T cells and since exposure of splenic T cells to IPE leads to global T cell suppression, we have inquired into the mechanism by which suppression is achieved. Using splenic T cells and IPE from donor mice with disrupted genes for CD80 (B7-1), CD86 (B7-2), CTLA-4, and/or CD28, we report that B7-2(+) IPE in the presence of anti-CD3 supported selectively the activation of CTLA-4(+) CD8(+) T cells that express their own B7-2 and secrete enhanced amounts of active TGFbeta. By contrast, activation of CTLA-4-negative T cells, especially CD4(+) cells, in these cultures was profoundly suppressed. Because global suppression of T cell activation in these cultures was obtained only when both IPE and T cells possessed B7-2 genes and expressed the costimulators as surface molecules, we propose that T cells activated in the presence of parenchymal cells from the eye (an immune privileged site) express B7-2 in a manner that equips them to suppress bystander T cells. Thus, B7-2 expression on T cells participates in their eventual ability to function as regulators in vitro.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.172.7.4184DOI Listing
April 2004

Neural progenitor cells lack immunogenicity and resist destruction as allografts.

Stem Cells 2003 ;21(4):405-16

Department of Ophthalmology, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Multipotent, self-renewing stem and progenitor cells isolated from the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) have been shown to survive as allografts following transplantation to sites throughout the neuraxis. However, studies of this type shed little light upon the immunologic properties of the cells themselves, primarily because little is learned about the intrinsic immunogenic properties of a cell when it is grafted into an immune-privileged site. We have therefore investigated the immunogenic and antigenic properties of CNS progenitor cells by grafting them into a conventional (i.e., non-immune-privileged) site, namely, beneath the kidney capsule. Our results indicate that allogeneic CNS progenitor cells survive at least 4 weeks in a conventional site, during which time they neither sensitize their hosts nor express detectable levels of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I or II. These in vivo data are in accord with flow cytometric results showing that CNS progenitor cells do not express MHC class I or class II, either at baseline or upon differentiation in 10% serum. Exposure to interferon gamma, however, reversibly upregulates expression of these key transplantation antigens. Together, these results reveal CNS progenitor cells to possess inherent immune privilege. Since CNS progenitor cell allografts were rejected beneath the kidney capsule following specific sensitization of the host, CNS progenitor cells were able to display alloantigens, albeit not in an immunogenic form.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/stemcells.21-4-405DOI Listing
February 2004

Mucin gene expression in immortalized human corneal-limbal and conjunctival epithelial cell lines.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2003 Jun;44(6):2496-506

Schepens Eye Research Institute and Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Purpose: The corneal and conjunctival epithelia, which cover the ocular surface, play an important role in preventing pathogen penetrance into the eye and maintaining a wet-surface phenotype by producing highly hydrophilic mucin molecules for their apical surfaces. Ocular surface infections, wounding, and pathologies resulting in dry eye threaten sight and can cause blindness. Understanding the ocular surface defense mechanisms that mucins provide has been hampered by the lack of immortalized human corneal and conjunctival epithelial cell lines that retain mucin gene expression patterns of the native tissue. The purpose of this work was to characterize newly developed immortalized corneal and conjunctival cell lines using mucin gene expression as markers of differentiation.

Methods: The cell lines were derived as described by a previously published process. Primary cultures of corneal-limbal and conjunctival epithelia were sequentially transduced to express a dominant negative p53 protein and a p16(INK4A/Rb)-resistant, mutant cdk4 protein, which enabled the cells to bypass a senescence mechanism recently identified for primary cultures of keratinocytes. These cells were then transduced to express the catalytic subunit of telomerase to permit them to retain their telomeres and divide indefinitely. Cellular morphology and expression of mucin genes in the two cell lines, designated HCLE for the human corneal-limbal line and HCjE for the human conjunctival cell line, were determined after culture on plastic, type I collagen, or Matrigel, in coculture with fibroblasts, and in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. Expression of the epithelial cell mucins was assayed by reverse transcription, real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunoblot analysis, or immunohistochemistry and compared with expression in native cornea and conjunctiva.

Results: When grown in high-calcium medium on plastic and type I collagen, cells of both lines stratified, exhibiting multiple cell layers. In Matrigel, both cell lines formed cell aggregates that contained lumens. In the SCID mice, the conjunctival cell line formed stratified layers under the kidney capsule. The corneal cell line expressed keratins K3 and K12, the keratins that are corneal-epithelial-specific, and both cell lines expressed K19. As in native tissue, the HCLE and HCjE cell lines expressed the membrane-associated mucins, MUC1, -4, and -16, although their levels were generally lower. Levels of MUC4 and -16 mRNA were the most comparable to native tissue, particularly when cultured on plastic. Apical cells of the stratified cultures were the cells that expressed the membrane-associated mucins MUC1 and -16. Goblet-cell-specific MUC5AC mRNA and protein was detected in a small population of HCjE cells only when using type I collagen as a substrate or when cells were cocultured with fibroblasts. Both cell lines produced glycosylated mucins as indicated by binding of H185 antibody, an antibody that recognizes a carbohydrate epitope on mucins.

Conclusions: The immortalized corneal (HCLE) and conjunctival (HCjE) cell lines exhibit the mucin gene expression repertoire of their native epithelia. These cell lines will be useful in determining regulation of ocular surface mucin gene expression and, potentially, goblet cell differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.02-0851DOI Listing
June 2003

Allogeneic neonatal neuronal retina grafts display partial immune privilege in the subcapsular space of the kidney.

J Immunol 2002 Nov;169(10):5601-6

The Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, 20 Staniford Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Transplantation of immature retinal tissues may offer a solution for restoring sight to individuals afflicted with degenerative retinal diseases. Promising results have recently demonstrated that neonatal retinal grafts placed in the eye can survive, differentiate into photoreceptor cells, and respond to evoked electrical stimuli. These transplants, however, were performed in immunologically immature recipients. Since it is important to know whether neonatal neuronal retina (NNR) tissue is immunogenic in immune-competent recipients, and whether this tissue displays inherent immune privilege, we have examined the fate of such grafts placed in a non-immune-privileged site of adult recipient mice. We found that typical, photoreceptor-dominated rosettes formed in differentiating NNR grafts, and that these allografts survived beyond 12 days, whereas genetically identical skin grafts were rejected earlier. Class II MHC-bearing cells of recipient origin were observed along the edge of NNR allografts as early as day 5. Donor-specific delayed hypersensitivity was not detected at 12 days, but did emerge on day 20, coincident with rejection of NNR allografts. Lymph nodes, but not spleens, of mice bearing NNR grafts at 12 days contained regulatory lymphoid cells that suppressed delayed hypersensitivity in naive recipients. We conclude that NNR grafts accommodate and even differentiate in the non-immune-privileged space beneath the kidney capsule. Survival beneath the kidney capsule of NNR allografts, but not skin allografts, at 12 days and beyond implies that NNR tissue possesses inherent immune privilege. The vulnerability of these grafts to rejection by 20 days reveals this privilege to be partial and temporary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.169.10.5601DOI Listing
November 2002

Immunobiology and privilege of neuronal retina and pigment epithelium transplants.

Vision Res 2002 Feb;42(4):487-95

Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Schepens Eye Research Institute, 20 Staniford Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Despite the existence of ocular immune privilege, immune rejection may be a barrier to successful retinal transplantation. We have examined in mice the extent to which the subretinal space (SRS) is an immune privileged site, and whether retinal pigment epithelium and neuronal retinal tissue have properties of immune privileged tissues. We report that (1) The SRS is an immune privileged site; (2) Neonatal RPE is an immune privileged tissue; (3) Neuronal retina is a partially immune privileged tissue; and (4) Microglia within neonatal neural retina grafts promote photoreceptor differentiation, become activated, and induce sensitization of the recipient and serve as targets of immune rejection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0042-6989(01)00185-7DOI Listing
February 2002
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