Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) is a disease of the neural retina induced by immunization with retinal antigens, such as interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) and arrestin (retinal soluble antigen, S-Ag). EAU serves as a model for human autoimmune uveitic diseases associated with major histocompatibility complex (HLA) genes, in which patients exhibit immunological responses to retinal antigens. Here we report the development of a humanized EAU model in HLA transgenic (TG) mice. HLA-DR3, -DR4, -DQ6, and -DQ8 TG mice were susceptible to IRBP-induced EAU. Importantly, HLA-DR3 TG mice developed severe EAU with S-Ag, to which wild-type mice are highly resistant. Lymphocyte proliferation was blocked by anti-HLA antibodies, confirming that antigen is functionally presented by the human MHC molecules. Disease could be transferred by immune cells with a Th1-like cytokine profile. Antigen-specific T cell repertoire, as manifested by responses to overlapping peptides derived from S-Ag or IRBP, differed from that of wild-type mice. Interestingly, DR3 TG mice, but not wild-type mice, recognized an immunodominant S-Ag epitope between residues 291 and 310 that overlaps with a region of S-Ag recognized by uveitis patients. Thus, EAU in HLA TG mice offers a new model of uveitis that should represent human disease more faithfully than currently existing models.
Giuseppina Pennesi, Mary J. Mattapallil, Shu-Hui Sun, Dody Avichezer, Phyllis B. Silver, Zaruhi Karabekian, Chella S. David, Paul A. Hargrave, J. Hugh McDowell, W. Clay Smith, Barbara Wiggert, Larry A. Donoso, Chi-Chao Chan, Rachel R. Caspi