The discovery further challenges the accepted scientific dogma that the lens is shut out from the immune protection.
May 26, 2020
3D reconstruction showing cells along fibrils

Surveillance of the lens by immune cells in response to wounding of the cornea: 3D surface structure imaging at one day post-corneal wounding shows immune cells (CD45+, green) migrating along within ciliary zonule fibrils (MAGP1+, white) that extend along the surface of the matrix capsule that surrounds the lens (perlecan+, red). Ciliary zonules (white) that link the lens to the ciliary body. Image credit: JodiRae DeDreu, Thomas Jefferson University.

The lens of the eye is an unusual organ. Unlike most of the body’s organs, blood vessels don’t reach the lens. If they did, they’d obscure our vision and we wouldn’t be able to see. The lack of vasculature led scientists to believe immune cells, which travel via the bloodstream, couldn’t get to this part of the body either. But a few years ago, Thomas Jefferson University researchers challenged this long held assumption by demonstrating that immune cells populate the lens in response to degeneration. Now the Jefferson team finds the eye also launches an immune response in the lens after injury. The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that is working to overturn the accepted dogma of the field.