Ocular function depends on a high level of anatomical integrity. This is threatened by inflammation, which alters the local tissue over short and long time-scales. Uveitis due to autoimmune disease, especially when it involves the retina, leads to persistent changes in how the eye interacts with the immune system. The normal pattern of immune surveillance, which for immune privileged tissues is limited, is re-programmed. Many cell types, that are not usually present in the eye, become detectable. There are changes in the tissue homeostasis and integrity. In both human disease and mouse models, in the most extreme cases, immunopathological findings consistent with development of ectopic lymphoid-like structures and disrupted angiogenesis accompany severely impaired eye function. Understanding how the ocular environment is shaped by persistent inflammation is crucial to developing novel approaches to treatment.
- Ectopic lymphoid tissue