Immunology and Uveitis

Llop SM, Davoudi S, Stanwyck LK, Sathe S, Tom L, Ahmadi T, Grotting L, Papaliodis GN, Sobrin L. Association of Low Vitamin D Levels with Noninfectious Uveitis and Scleritis. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2018;:1-8.Abstract
PURPOSE: To determine whether an association between Vitamin D and noninfectious ocular inflammation exists. METHODS: Retrospective case-control study with 765 patients (333 uveitis cases, 103 scleritis cases, 329 controls). Logistic regression models examined the relationship between hypovitaminosis D and ocular inflammation. RESULTS: The odds of having uveitis were 1.92 times higher for patients with hypovitaminosis D compared to patients with normal Vitamin D levels in the multivariate analysis [odds ratio (OR) = 1.92, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.36-2.72, p = 2.32 × 10]. A secondary analysis demonstrated that the odds of developing uveitis or scleritis were 5% lower and 4% lower, respectively, for every unit increase in Vitamin D level (uveitis: OR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.94-0.97, p = 9.87 × 10; scleritis: OR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.93-0.99, p = 0.009). CONCLUSION: Hypovitaminosis D was associated with increased risk of ocular inflammation in this retrospective study.
Ma L, You C, Hernandez M, Maleki A, Lasave A, Schmidt A, Stephenson A, Zhao T, Anesi S, Foster SC. Management of Ocular Cicatricial Pemphigoid with Intravenous Immunoglobulin Monotherapy. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2018;:1-7.Abstract
PURPOSE: To assess the long-term efficacy and safety of IVIg monotherapy in patients with recalcitrant ocular cicatricial pemphigoid (OCP). METHODS: A chart review of all OCP patients seen at the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (MERSI) between 2005 and 2015 was completed. Stage was graded by using the Foster grading system. IVIg infusion was 2g/kg/cycle administered in 3 consecutive days monthly. RESULTS: Of 512 OCP patients, 17 patients (34 eyes) treated with IVIg monotherapy were identified. Seven were female and ten were male. The average age at diagnosis was 60.7-year-old. The follow up time ranged from 12 to 140 months. Twenty-six eyes (76.5%) achieved remission. Nine remission eyes received cataract surgeries, and 2 of them had relapse (22.2%). The other 17 eyes did not undergo ocular surgery and remained in remission. IVIg monotherapy showed high efficacy in stage 1 OCP (7/7, 100%). Ocular surgery can be associated with OCP relapse (Table 2). CONCLUSIONS: IVIg monotherapy is an effective and safe therapy in patients with recalcitrant OCP. Ocular surgery can be associated with OCP relapse.
Maleki A, Meese H, Sahawneh H, Foster SC. Progress in the understanding and utilization of biologic response modifiers in the treatment of uveitis. Expert Rev Clin Immunol 2016;12(7):775-86.Abstract

Uveitis is the third most common cause of blindness in developed countries. Considering the systemic and local complications of long-term corticosteroid therapy and the intolerance due to side effects and ineffectiveness of conventional chemotherapy, use of biologic response modifiers is a reasonable alternative in the treatment of non-infectious uveitis and persistent uveitic macular edema. The majority of the evidence presented here comes from open uncontrolled analyses. Based on these studies, tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibitors, especially infliximab and adalimumab, have been shown to be effective in the treatment of non-infectious uveitis in numerous studies. More research is necessary, particularly multi-center randomized clinical trials, to address the choice of biologic response modifier agent and the length of treatment as we employ biologic response modifiers in different types of uveitis and persistent uveitic macular edema.

Maleki A, Swan RT, Silpa-Archa S, Preble JM, He Y, Foster SC. Short-Wavelength Automated Perimetry Parameters at Baseline and Following Remission in Patients With Birdshot Retinochoroidopathy. Am J Ophthalmol 2016;163:83-92.e6.Abstract

PURPOSE: To identify changes in short-wavelength automated perimetry patterns and parameters between the active and inactive states. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study with age-matched, normal controls. METHODS: setting: Private tertiary referral center. STUDY POPULATION: Seventy-five eyes of 38 patients with active birdshot retinochoroidopathy and 37 eyes of 37 historical normal controls. INTERVENTION: Thirty-seven patients received immunomodulatory therapy. A fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant (Retisert) was implanted in both eyes of 1 patient as an initial treatment. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in short-wavelength automated perimetry total deviation scores, pattern deviation scores, mean deviation, and pattern standard deviation in the active phase and the remission state. RESULTS: Mean deviation (P = .006), pattern standard deviation (P = .001), total deviation score (P = .002), and pattern deviation score (P = .007) were significantly different from the active phase to the remission state. The length of time required to achieve remission did not significantly affect the changes in mean deviation (regression coefficient = 0.01; P = .92), pattern standard deviation (regression coefficient = 0.01; P = .87), total deviation score (regression coefficient = -0.1; P = .32), or pattern deviation score (regression coefficient = 0.1; P = .36) from the active phase to the remission state. CONCLUSION: There was significant improvement in total deviation score, pattern deviation score, mean deviation, and pattern standard deviation on short-wavelength automated perimetry as patients achieved remission. Short-wavelength automated perimetry appears to be a useful and complementary modality in monitoring disease activity in birdshot retinochoroidopathy.


PURPOSE: To describe the clinical course, visual outcome, and prognosis of isolated, idiopathic retinal vasculitis. METHODS: Eighty patients (150 eyes) with isolated, idiopathic retinal vasculitis were included. Demographic data, clinical data, complications at the initial visit and during follow-up, fluorescein angiography, and optical coherence tomography findings were collected from the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (MERSI) database from September 2005 to February 2015. RESULTS: Seventy-five (93.7%) patients required treatment with immunomodulatory therapy. Of those 75 patients, 60 (75%) patients were able to achieve durable remission. Factors which were independently significant predictive of poor visual outcome were lower initial visual acuity (OR: 3.78; 95% CI: 1.75-8.16; P = 0.001), cystoid macular edema (OR: 5.54; 95% CI: 1.81-16.99; P = 0.003), and macular ischemia (OR: 5.12; 95% CI: 1.12-23.04; P = 0.036). CONCLUSION: The majority (67.25%) of our patients enjoyed a good visual outcome (most recent visit best-corrected visual acuity equal to or better than 20/40 and within one line or better from the baseline) with immunomodulatory therapy. We found that cystoid macular edema, macular ischemia, and lower best-corrected visual acuity during the first consultation visit were significant independent risk factors for poor visual outcome.

Maleki A, Gomez S, Asgari S, Bosenberg Z, Manhapra A, Walsh M, Weng A, Tseng C, He C, Anesi SD, Foster SC. Diagnostic and Prognostic Roles of Serum Interleukin-6 Levels in Patients with Uveitis. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2020;:1-6.Abstract
PURPOSE: To examine the diagnostic and prognostic roles of serum interleukin-6 levels in patients with uveitis. METHODS: This was a retrospective observational case series. Demographic and clinical characteristics were compared between Group One (sixty patients) with normal serum IL-6 levels and Group Two (twenty patients) with high serum interleukin-6 levels. RESULTS: Mean IL-6 level was 1.77 ± 0.97 pg/ml and 10.2 ± 9.7 pg/ml in Group One and Group Two respectively. Age, presence of systemic disease, and mean number of flare-ups were statistically significant ( = .015, = .000, = .03, respectively). Multivariate analysis was performed on variables that were statistically significant in univariate analysis and showed that three variables had significant correlation with IL-6 levels in both groups: systemic disease (OR = 10.83, < .001), Age (OR = 0.95, = .03) and number of flare-ups (OR = 2.9, = .02). CONCLUSION: Serum IL-6 levels can provide diagnostic and prognostic information in regard to the course of disease and its treatment.
Maleki A, Garcia CM, Asgari S, Manhapra A, Foster CS. Response to the Second TNF-α Inhibitor (Adalimumab or Infliximab) after Failing the First One in Refractory Idiopathic Inflammatory Retinal Vascular Leakage. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2021;:1-10.Abstract
: To determine the response to the second TNF-α inhibitor (adalimumab and infliximab) after failing the first agent in idiopathic inflammatory retinal vascular leakage.: This was a retrospective observational case series. Patients with the diagnosis of idiopathic inflammatory retinal vascular leakage who had received both infliximab and adalimumab were included in the study.: Twelve and 15 patients received adalimumab (Group one) and infliximab (Group two) as the first treatment, respectively. The remission rates between Group one (58.3%) and Group two (66.7%) were not statistically significant. ( = .4) As the second agent, adalimumab was more effective in younger patients (27.5 ± 20.6) compared to older patients (48.75 ± 10.2). ( = .03). Moreover, patients with lower vision responded marginally better to infliximab as the second treatment ( = .06).: Either TNF-α inhibitor, adalimumab and infliximab, can be employed in the treatment of the patients with idiopathic inflammatory retinal vascular leakage who fail one of these agents.
Maleki A, Swan RT, Lasave AF, Ma L, Foster SC. Reply. Ophthalmology 2017;124(8):e64-e65.
Maleki A, Ueberroth JA, Walsh M, Foster F, Chang PY, Anesi SD, Foster CS. Combination of Intravenous Methotrexate and Methylprednisolone Therapy in the Treatment of Severe Ocular Inflammatory Diseases. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2020;:1-5.Abstract
: To evaluate the efficacy of intravenous methotrexate and methylprednisolone in severe, sight-threatening ocular inflammatory conditions.: This was a retrospective observational case series. Patients who had received intravenous methotrexate for ocular inflammation with at least 24 months of follow-up were included in the study.: Ten patients (20 eyes) were included in this study. Mean age of the patients was 47.2 ± 17.7 (range:19-74). At 1-month follow-up visit, nine patients showed improvement and one patient failed treatment. At 12-month follow-up visit, all patients were in remission. Two patients were only on intravenous methotrexate infusions. At twenty-four-month follow-up visit, only one patient, in remission, was on intravenous methotrexate therapy. Leukopenia was the only adverse effect observed.: Intravenous methotrexate and methylprednisolone infusions can be an effective method of treatment in patients with severe, sight-threatening ocular inflammatory conditions.
Maleki A, Swan RT, Lasave AF, Ma L, Foster SC. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty in Controlled Uveitis with Steroid-Induced Glaucoma. Ophthalmology 2016;123(12):2630-2632.

PURPOSE: To examine the efficacy and safety of infliximab therapy in the treatment for noninfectious intermediate uveitis resistant to conventional immunomodulatory therapy. METHODS: Forty-four eyes of 23 patients with resistant noninfectious intermediate uveitis who were treated with infliximab infusions for a minimum period of 3 months were included. Demographic data, clinical data, and fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography findings were collected from the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution database between August 2005 and February 2014. Clinical response, improvement in ancillary test findings, and major side effects were evaluated. RESULTS: Nineteen patients (82.6%) achieved remission. The mean duration of treatment to induce remission was 3.99 ± 3.06 months (range, 2-14.7). Cystoid macular edema was the only complication observed during the course of the treatment in 1 eye (2.27%). One patient (4.3%) developed major side effects. None of the patients developed central or peripheral demyelinating neuropathies or multiple sclerosis. At 6 months after remission, logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution visual acuity (P = 0.006) and central macular thickness (P = 0.03) showed significant improvement in patients who achieved remission. CONCLUSION: A significant number of patients achieved remission on infliximab therapy. The incidence of major side effects in our cohort was low.

Maleki A, Anesi SD, Look-Why S, Asgari S, Manhapra A, Foster SC. Clinical course and poor prognostic factors of Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease in a tertiary uveitis clinic. Can J Ophthalmol 2021;
McKay MK, Borkar DS, Sevgi DD, Susarla G, Papaliodis GN, Sobrin L. Comparison of Modified Posterior Sub-Tenon's vs. Trans-Septal Triamcinolone Injection for Non-infectious Uveitis. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2020;:1-8.Abstract
: To compare the safety and efficacy of trans-septal vs. modified posterior sub-Tenon's (PST) corticosteroid injections for noninfectious uveitis.: Retrospective comparison of periocular triamcinolone injection by modified PST (n = 36) vs. traditional trans-septal (n = 79) techniques. Safety and efficacy outcomes were analyzed with regression models.: There was no significant difference in visual acuity improvement between the groups at 6 months. There were higher rates of vitritis resolution in the modified PST group but this was not statistically significant (85.7% vs 62.9%, = .07). Intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation rate trended higher with the modified PST injection (21.9% vs 9.0%, = .06), with no instances of glaucoma surgery in either group. Two modified PST injection patients with refractory IOP rises had IOP normalization after corticosteroid depot removal. One year cataract surgery rates were similar.: Modified PST injection offers clinical efficacy but with possibly higher IOP response rate which could be managed with corticosteroid removal.
Minkus CL, Pistilli M, Dreger KA, Fitzgerald TD, Payal AR, Begum H, Kaçmaz OR, Jabs DA, Nussenblatt RB, Rosenbaum JT, Levy-Clarke GA, Sen NH, Suhler EB, Thorne JE, Bhatt NP, Foster SC, Buchanich JM, Kempen JH, for Group SITED (SITE) CSR. Risk of Cataract in Intermediate Uveitis. Am J Ophthalmol 2021;Abstract
PURPOSE: To determine the incidence of and predictive factors for cataract in intermediate uveitis. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study METHODS: Patients were identified from the Systemic Immunosuppressive Therapy for Eye Diseases (SITE) Cohort Study, in which medical records were reviewed to determine demographic and clinical data of every eye/patient at every visit at five participating United States tertiary care uveitis centers. The primary outcome was development of vision-compromising cataract as defined by a decrease in visual acuity to 20/40 or less, or requiring cataract surgery. Survival analysis assessed visually defined cataract to avoid bias due to timing of surgery vis-à-vis inflammatory status. RESULTS: Among 2,190 eyes of 1,302 patients with intermediate uveitis the cumulative incidence of cataract formation was 7.6% by one year (95% CI=6.2-9.1%), increasing to 36.6% by ten years (95% CI=31.2-41.6%). Increased cataract risk was observed in eyes with concurrent anterior uveitis causing posterior synechiae (HR=2.68, 95% CI=2.00-3.59, p<0.001), and in eyes with epiretinal membrane formation (HR=1.54, 95% CI=1.15-2.07, p=0.004). Higher dose corticosteroid therapy was associated with significantly higher incidence of cataract, especially time-updated use of topical corticosteroids ≥2 times/day or ≥4 periocular corticosteroid injections. Low dose corticosteroid medications (oral prednisone 7.5mg daily or less, or topical corticosteroid drops <2 times/day) were not associated with increased cataract risk. CONCLUSIONS: Our study found that the incidence of clinically important cataract in intermediate uveitis is moderate. The risk is higher with markers of severity, and with higher doses of corticosteroid medications, the latter being potentially modifiable.
Muhammad F, Wang D, Montieth A, Lee S, Preble J, Foster SC, Larson TA, Ding K, Dvorak JD, Lee DJ. PD-1 melanocortin receptor dependent-Treg cells prevent autoimmune disease. Sci Rep 2019;9(1):16941.Abstract
Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) is a mouse model of human autoimmune uveitis marked by ocular autoantigen-specific regulatory immunity in the spleen. The melanocortin 5 receptor (MC5r) and adenosine 2 A receptor (A2Ar) are required for induction of post-EAU regulatory T cells (Tregs) which provide resistance to EAU. We show that blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway prevented suppression of EAU by post-EAU Tregs. A2Ar induction of PD-1FoxP3 Tregs in uveitis patients was similar compared to healthy controls, but was significantly reduced with melanocortin stimulation. Further, lower body mass index correlated with responsiveness to stimulation of this pathway. These observations indicate an importance of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway to provide resistance to relapsing uveitis and shows a reduced capacity of uveitis patients to induce Tregs when stimulated through melanocortin receptors, but that it is possible to bypass this part of the pathway through direct stimulation of A2Ar.
Muhammad F, Wang D, McDonald T, Walsh M, Drenen K, Montieth A, Foster SC, Lee DJ. TIGIT A2Ar-Dependent anti-uveitic Treg cells are a novel subset of Tregs associated with resolution of autoimmune uveitis. J Autoimmun 2020;111:102441.Abstract
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are necessary to prevent autoimmune disease. As such, stable FoxP3 expression is required for the proper function of Tregs in the control of autoimmune disease. Different Treg subsets that utilize different mechanisms of suppression have been identified. The T-cell immunoglobulin immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (TIGIT) is a relatively new Treg cell marker that has a suppressive function. We have previously identified the adenosine 2A receptor (A2Ar) as a requirement for the emergence of Tregs following resolution of autoimmune disease. Using a FoxP3-GFP-Cre reporter mouse, we identify FoxP3 and 'exFoxP3' cells, show FoxP3 and not exFoxP3 cells are suppressive. We further show FoxP3 cells express TIGIT, and are induced through A2Ar in healthy volunteers, but not patients with autoimmune disease. Furthermore, we show Tregs emerge in the target tissue at the onset of autoimmune disease in an A2Ar-dependent manner. In summary, we identify a novel subset of TIGIT Tregs that are induced through stimulation of the A2Ar.
Neumann R, Nguyen QD, Kramer M, Zierhut M, Kempen JH, DeSmet M, Wickstrom K. ISOPT Hot Topic Panel Discussion on Uveitis and Inflammation. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther 2019;35(8):433-440.Abstract
For this "hot topic" session in uveitis we selected first and foremost an issue that puts our clinical work and research in "holding pattern." The issue is our method of evaluating the severity of uveitis. We posed the following questions to our esteemed panelists: 1.The relative significance of cells vs. flare in following uveitis patients 2.Cells/flare measurements 3.A glance into the future and the relevance of endpoints in clinical studies and their methodologies While there are different opinions in managing and monitoring uveitis patients, there seems to be an agreement on the high need of improving objective mode/s of reliably measuring both cells and flare and better understand their significance.
Nguyen QD, Anesi SD, Chexal S, Chu DS, Dayani PN, Leng T, Meleth AD, Sallam AA, Sheppard JD, Silverstein SM, Toyos M, Wang RC, Foster CS. Management of repository corticotropin injection therapy for non-infectious uveitis: a Delphi study. Acta Ophthalmol 2021;Abstract
PURPOSE: Diagnosis and management of non-infectious uveitis (NIU), a major cause of blindness worldwide, are challenging. Corticosteroids, the cornerstone of therapy, are not appropriate for long-term use, and while non-biologic and biologic immunomodulators may be used for some patients, data on their efficacy and safety in this population are limited. Repository corticotropin injection (RCI), believed to affect uveitis by multiple mechanisms, has received regulatory approval for treatment of ophthalmic diseases including posterior uveitis, but is not widely used or discussed in guidelines for the management of uveitis and ocular inflammatory diseases. METHODS: The index study employed a modified Delphi process with a panel of 14 US-based ophthalmologists. Consensus recommendations were developed through a series of three questionnaires. Panellists rated statements on a Likert scale from -5 (strongly disagree) to +5 (strongly agree). RESULTS: The Delphi panel provided consensus recommendations on examinations and testing needed for diagnosis, treatment goals, and the use of corticosteroids, as well as the use of non-biologic and biologic immunomodulators. The panel reached consensus that RCI may be considered for posterior and pan-uveitis, and dosing should be individualized for each patient. Dose reduction/discontinuation should be considered for excessive RCI-related toxicity, hyperglycaemia and/or diabetic complications, excessive costs, or remission ≥ 2 years. Patients should be weaned from RCI if uveitis is stable and well controlled. Adverse events during RCI therapy can be managed by appropriate interventions, with dose reduction/discontinuation considered if events are severe or recurrent. CONCLUSIONS: Expert consensus suggests RCI may be an appropriate treatment option for some patients with uveitis when other therapies are ineffective or intolerable.
Nicholson L, Sobrin L. Anterior uveitis secondary to type II essential cryoglobulinemia. J Ophthalmic Inflamm Infect 2013;3(1):56.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this report is to describe the association of severe anterior uveitis with type II essential cryoglobulinemia. FINDINGS: A 40-year-old male with a history of psoriatic arthritis presented with severe anterior uveitis associated with type II essential cryoglobulinemia. His uveitis, refractory to steroid treatments, was well controlled following treatments for cryoglobulinemia. The temporal association between his cryoglobulinemia and uveitis, combined with his improved visual acuity and inflammation after plasmapheresis and rituximab infusions, suggests cryoglobulinemia to be the underlying condition of his uveitis. CONCLUSIONS: To our best knowledge, this is the first reported case of anterior uveitis secondary to type II essential cryoglobulinemia.
Noble CW, Gangaputra SS, Thompson IA, Yuan A, Apolo AB, Lee J-M, Papaliodis GN, Kodati S, Bishop R, Magone TM, Sobrin L, Sen NH. Ocular Adverse Events following Use of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Metastatic Malignancies. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2019;:1-6.Abstract
PURPOSE: To report the clinical features, severity, and management of ocular immune-related adverse events (irAEs) in the setting of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for metastatic malignancies. METHODS: Retrospective chart review at three tertiary ophthalmology clinics. Electronic medical records were reviewed between 2000 and 2017 for patients with new ocular symptoms while undergoing checkpoint inhibition therapy. RESULTS: Eleven patients were identified. Ocular irAEs ranged from keratoconjunctivitis sicca to Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like findings. Average timing of irAEs from starting checkpoint inhibitor therapy was 15.7 weeks. Ocular inflammation was successfully controlled with corticosteroids in most cases, however three patients discontinue treatment as a result of ocular inflammation with decreased visual acuity, two discontinued due to progression of metastatic disease, and one discontinued due to severe systemic irAEs. CONCLUSION: We found a wide spectrum of ocular irAEs associated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. In most cases, ocular AEs did not limit ongoing cancer treatment.