April 22, 2019

A research team at Massachusetts Eye and Ear has shown that microglia, the primary immune cells of the central nervous system—including the retina of the eye—serve as “gatekeepers,” or biosensors and facilitators, of neuroinflammation in a preclinical model of autoimmune uveitis. 

The researchers describe, for the first time, a role for microglia in directing the initiation of autoimmune uveitis by orchestrating the inflammatory response within the retina. In reaction to disease induction, microglia closely associate with the retinal vasculature and facilitate inflammatory immune cell entry past the blood brain, or ocular, barrier into the retina. When the researchers depleted microglia in this model, they observed that the disease was completely blocked.