The ordered array of perivascular macrophages is disrupted by IL-1- induced inflammation in the rabbit retina

Carolyn A. Cuff, Joan W. Herman, Celia F. Brosnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In this study we have shown that an antibody to CD18 identified a population of cells in the rabbit retina that resembled the perivascular macrophage found in other regions of the central nervous system. In the normal retina these cells possessed a ramified morphology and presented in an ordered array on the vitreal surface in association with the epiretinal vessels. Approximately 50% of the perivascular macrophages constitutively expressed MHC class II. In response to interleukin-1β (IL-1β)- induced inflammation, these cells became activated, as evidenced by a change from a ramified to an ameboid morphology and increased expression of MHC class II, and migrated away from the vessels. These changes were first detected around 3 h post-intraocular challenge coincident with the onset of inflammation. At the peak of the inflammatory response (~24 h post-challenge), many activated perivascular macrophages were no longer associated with the vessels and formed long 'cords' of MHC class II+ cells associated with underlying deposits of fibrin. In eyes challenged with heat- inactivated IL- 1, no change in the morphology or distribution of the perivascular macrophage was noted. At 3 weeks post-challenge with IL-1, the number and distribution of the perivascular macrophages were restored to baseline values, although with a reduced cell size. Since these changes closely resemble those that occur in non-lymphoid dendritic cells in the skin, heart, and/or kidney following activation with cytokines or bacterial products, the results suggest that the perivascular macrophage represents the dendritic cell of the retina and may thus play an important role in immune surveillance in the eye and maintenance of the blood-retina barrier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-316
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1996


  • Central Nervous system
  • Class II MHC
  • Cytokines
  • Dendritic cells
  • Immune surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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