Thrombospondin (TSP-1) is essential for maintaining ocular immune privilege and preventing potentially blinding effects of ocular inflammation. An extracellular matrix protein TSP-1 is synthesized by several ocular epithelia as well as resident antigen presenting cells (APCs), which contribute to the immune privilege status of the eye. The anti-inflammatory effects of TSP-1 in ocular inflammation are apparent from the spontaneous development of chronic ocular surface inflammation in TSP-1 deficient mice. The studies described in this proposal seek to elucidate immunologic mechanisms underlying such inflammatory responses noted in the absence of TSP-1. The first specific aim seeks to determine the significance of thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) in the prevention of ocular inflammation. Experiments in this aim will allow us to characterize immune effectors developed in the absence of TSP-1 that lead to ocular surface inflammation.
The second aim seeks to investigate the specific contribution of local TSP-1 in the lacrimal glands towards altering immune effectors. Considering the multidomain structure of a large molecule like TSP-1 with multiple cell type specific biological effects, these investigations will clarify mechanisms by which TSP-1 contributes to the prevention of chronic ocular inflammation. Since TSP-1 is known to be important in maintaining immune privilege these studies can build further on the existing knowledge of ocular immune responses and provide insights into novel potential therapeutic strategies.
Immune privilege of the eye is an evolutionary phenomenon that protects the eye from potential vision-compromising inflammatory immune response. Understanding immunologic mechanisms underlying this phenomenon can help improve current therapeutic approaches used to treat ocular inflammation. The long-term goal of these investigations is to develop novel anti-inflammatory therapeutic strategies to counter inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune diseases and transplant rejections.
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