Date Published:2015 May 1
PURPOSE: The contribution of lymphangiogenesis (LA) to allergy has received considerable attention and therapeutic inhibition of this process via targeting VEGF has been considered. Likewise, certain inflammatory settings affecting the ocular mucosa can trigger pathogenic LA in the naturally avascular cornea. Chronic inflammation in allergic eye disease (AED) impacts the conjunctiva and cornea, leading to sight threatening conditions. However, whether corneal LA is involved is completely unknown. We addressed this using a validated mouse model of AED. METHODS: Allergic eye disease was induced by ovalbumin (OVA) immunization and chronic OVA exposure. Confocal microscopy of LYVE-1-stained cornea allowed evaluation of corneal LA, and qRT-PCR was used to evaluate expression of VEGF-C, -D, and -R3 in these mice. Administration of VEGF receptor (R) inhibitor was incorporated to inhibit corneal LA in AED. Immune responses were evaluated by in vitro OVA recall responses of T cells, and IgE levels in the serum. RESULTS: Confocal microscopy of LYVE-1-stained cornea revealed the distinct presence of corneal LA in AED, and corroborated by increased corneal expression of VEGF-C, -D, and -R3. Importantly, prevention of corneal LA in AED via VEGFR inhibition was associated with decreased T helper two responses and IgE production. Furthermore, VEGFR inhibition led a significant reduction in clinical signs of AED. CONCLUSIONS: Collectively, these data reveal that there is a distinct involvement of corneal LA in AED. Furthermore, VEGFR inhibition prevents corneal LA and consequent immune responses in AED.