Proctor Award Lecture examines ocular immune privilege
Lecture described dialogue between the eye and the immune system and how that dialogue is crucial for preserving life itself
Jerry Y Niederkorn PhD
Jerry Y Niederkorn PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, USA, was recognised as the 71st Proctor Awardee at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting.
In his lecture titled “The eye sees eye to eye with the immune system”, Dr Niederkorn described the dialogue that occurs between the eye and the immune system and how that dialogue is crucial for preserving vision, circadian rhythm, and even life itself.
He explained that the mechanism of immune privilege involves generation of regulatory T lymphocytes that suppress immune-mediated inflammation. However, following a first corneal transplantation and certain corneal infections, immune privilege is terminated bilaterally secondary to upregulation of a neuropeptide, substance P, and its receptor.
“I use the term terminated rather than fail because the turning off of immune privilege in these situations is a very beneficial adaptation. Even though it can lead to blindness, it can protect the host from a potentially life-threatening infection,” said Dr Niederkorn.