Introduction: Systemic rheumatic conditions are often accompanied by intraocular inflammatory disease (termed uveitis). Despite the frequent manifestation of uveitis with arthritis, very little is understood of the underlying mechanisms that mediate the eye's susceptibility to disease. The genetically susceptible SKG mouse strain develops arthritis that arises from an inherent mutation that disrupts T-cell antigen receptor signal transduction and thymic selection. The ensuing T-cell-mediated disease is further modulated through exposure to microbial triggers. The purpose of this study was to elucidate how a genetically determined shift in the T-cell repertoire toward self-reactive T cells that drive arthritis influences uveitis in SKG mice. Methods: SKG mice (BALB/c mice that harbor the W163C point mutation in zeta-chain-associated protein kinase 70 [i.e., ZAP-70]) were housed under arthritis-resistant, specific pathogen-free conditions. Arthritis was induced by intraperitoneal injection with fungal glucans (zymosan or curdlan). Arthritis onset and severity were evaluated by clinical scoring, histopathology and infrared imaging within the joints. Periocular traits involving blepharoconjunctivitis were evaluated by clinical scoring and histology. Eyes were evaluated for signs of anterior uveitis using intravital videomicroscopy to document cell-trafficking responses within the iris vasculature and stroma and by histology to detect inflammatory infiltrate and tissue damage within the anterior and posterior eye segments. Results: Exposure to zymosan resulted in the predicted arthritic, sexually dimorphic phenotype in SKG mice. The eyes of SKG mice exhibited episodic intravascular cellular responses to zymosan or curdlan as indicated by significant increases in leukocyte-endothelium interactions akin to ocular vasculitis. However, despite the significant increase in early cell-trafficking responses, cellular infiltration into the iris stroma was not observed and histopathological signs indicative of a sustained uveitis were absent. Instead, eyes of SKG mice developed blepharoconjunctivitis that coincided with arthritis and exhibited sexual dimorphism. Conclusions: This study underscores the complexity surrounding the pathogenesis of uveitis and its relationship with arthritis. The findings suggest that distinct mechanisms exist by which pathogenic autoimmune T cells target the eyes versus joints, which likely involves the environmental context but nonetheless should be taken into account in the identification and development of effective therapies for each organ.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy