Immunology and Uveitis


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.

Ebrahimiadib N, Modjtahedi BS, Davoudi S, Foster SC. Treatment of Serpiginous Choroiditis with Chlorambucil: A Report of 17 Patients. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2016;:1-11.Abstract

PURPOSE: To evaluate the efficacy of chlorambucil in the treatment of serpiginous choroiditis. METHODS: Patient records from the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (MERSI) were reviewed from over the past 10 years. In total, 17 patients with the diagnosis of serpiginous choroiditis treated with chlorambucil were identified. QuantiFERON gold was negative in all of them. Chlorambucil was started at 0.15 mg/kg and dosage was titrated up using weekly white blood cell (WBC) count to achieve a target cell number of 3.0-4.5 × 10(9) cells/L. The goal of therapy was to maintain this value for at least 6-9 months. Adverse effects, recurrence, rate of new choroidal neovascularization (CNVM), and visual acuity before and after treatment were recorded. RESULTS: The mean age of the 17 patients with the diagnosis of serpiginous choroiditis treated with chlorambucil was 46 years, and six patients (35%) were male. The mean duration of treatment for chlorambucil was 8.4 months. None of them developed cancer or persistent side-effects, with a mean follow-up of 53 months. Of the patients, 12 (71%) achieved an average of 45 (5-120) months drug-free remission in their last follow-up. Visual acuity of 33 treated eyes remained within two lines of Snellen acuity in 27 eyes (82%), improved in one eye (3%), and deteriorated in five eyes (15%). Leukopenia was the most common side-effect, which was reversible in all cases. CONCLUSIONS: Chlorambucil in a relatively short duration of time, with an escalating dose guided by weekly WBC was well tolerated, as well as effective in preventing recurrence and maintaining vision in patients with serpiginous choroiditis.

Satoh M, Namba K-I, Kitaichi N, Endo N, Kitamei H, Iwata D, Ohno S, Ishida S, Onoé K, Watarai H, Taniguchi M, Ishibashi T, Stein-Streilein J, Sonoda K-H, Van Kaer L, Iwabuchi K. Invariant natural killer T cells play dual roles in the development of experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis. Exp Eye Res 2016;153:79-89.Abstract

Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) represents an experimental model for human endogenous uveitis, which is caused by Th1/Th17 cell-mediated inflammation. Natural killer T (NKT) cells recognize lipid antigens and produce large amounts of cytokines upon activation. To examine the role of NKT cells in the development of uveitis, EAU was elicited by immunization with a peptide from the human interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (hIRBP1-20) in complete Freund's adjuvant and histopathology scores were evaluated in C57BL/6 (WT) and NKT cell-deficient mice. NKT cell-deficient mice developed more severe EAU pathology than WT mice. When WT mice were treated with ligands of the invariant subset of NKT cells (α-GalCer or RCAI-56), EAU was ameliorated in mice treated with RCAI-56 but not α-GalCer. IRBP-specific Th1/Th17 cytokines were reduced in RCAI-56-treated compared with vehicle-treated mice. Although the numbers of IRBP-specific T cells detected by hIRBP3-13/I-A(b) tetramers in the spleen and the draining lymph node were the same for vehicle and RCAI-56 treatment groups, RORγt expression by tetramer-positive cells in RCAI-56-treated mice was lower than in control mice. Moreover, the eyes of RCAI-56-treated mice contained fewer IRBP-specific T cells compared with control mice. These results suggest that invariant NKT (iNKT) cells suppress the induction of Th17 cells and infiltration of IRBP-specific T cells into the eyes, thereby reducing ocular inflammation. However, in sharp contrast to the ameliorating effects of iNKT cell activation during the initiation phase of EAU, iNKT cell activation during the effector phase exacerbated disease pathology. Thus, we conclude that iNKT cells exhibit dual roles in the development of EAU.


PURPOSE: To describe changes in three-dimensional choroidal volume and thickness with full raster scans of enhanced depth imaging optical coherence tomography in patients with birdshot retinochoroidopathy. METHODS: This prospective case series collected spectral domain optical coherence tomography images with the enhanced depth imaging technique from eight eyes of eight patients with birdshot retinochoroidopathy including four active patients (four eyes) and four quiet patients (four eyes). Fifty scans of each patient were manually segmented before automated built-in calibration software was used. RESULTS: Of all active patients, there were no statistically significant differences in the total choroidal volume and mean central choroidal thickness between the active and inactive phase over 6 months of follow-up. Alterations in choroidal parameters were evident and consistent after amelioration of inflammation, whereas the retinal volume and thickness remained stable. Regarding the eight inactive eyes at 6 months, the mean total choroidal volume and mean central choroidal thickness were significantly less than historical controls (P = 0.03 and P < 0.001, respectively). Persistent suprachoroidal hyporeflective space in two patients was noted despite the fact that clinical inflammation completely subsided at 6 months. CONCLUSION: Choroidal volume and thickness changes were consistent with inflammation in patients with birdshot retinochoroidopathy. Patients with inactive birdshot retinochoroidopathy have significant reduction in choroidal volume and thickness than do normal patients.

Ebrahimiadib N, Abusamra K, Domina AM, Stiles ER, Ewer R, Bocian CP, Foster SC. A Novel NOD2-associated Mutation and Variant Blau Syndrome: Phenotype and Molecular Analysis. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2016;:1-8.Abstract

PURPOSE: To describe the clinical and molecular implications of a novel mutation in the NOD2/CARD15 gene on a family and its seven affected members. METHODS: We reviewed the clinical presentations of family members who came to our center for refractory uveitis. Genetic testing and molecular testing was performed. RESULTS: All affected members had adult onset recurrent non-granulomatous panuveitis. The inheritance pattern suggested an autosomal dominant disease and genetic analysis identified a novel mutation in the NOD2 gene that converted amino acid 600 from glutamate to alanine (E600A). Transfection of the E600A NOD2 into human embryonic kidney-293 (HEK293) cells revealed constitutive activation and a reduced ability to respond to the NOD2 ligand, muramyl dipeptide (MDP) as compared with wild-type NOD2. CONCLUSIONS: The E600A mutation in the NOD2 gene may confer a higher penetrance of uveitis but a later onset of milder forms of non-ocular involvement.

Abusamra K, Oray M, Ebrahimiadib N, Lee S, Anesi S, Foster SC. Intraocular Lymphoma: Descriptive Data of 26 Patients Including Clinico-pathologic Features, Vitreous Findings, and Treatment Outcomes. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2016;:1-6.Abstract

PURPOSE: To describe clinical manifestations, diagnostic approaches, therapy, and outcomes of biopsy-proven intraocular lymphoma. METHODS: Review of tertiary referral center records between 2005 and 2015. RESULTS: A total of 51 eyes of 26 patients were included; mean age of onset was 60.42 years. Common ocular complaints included floaters (42%) and blurred vision (35%); 62% of patients had ocular and central nervous system involvement; 11% had systemic lymphoma; and 27% had only ocular involvement. Vitreous analysis was positive for malignant cells in 77% of patients on initial biopsy, and in 100% of patients on repeat biopsy. In total, 20/26 patients received systemic and topical treatment before IOL diagnosis was made; 25 patients received intravitreal methotrexate and/or rituximab; one patient received intracameral rituximab. All patients achieved remission by their final visit. CONCLUSIONS: Intraocular lymphoma often masquerades as intraocular inflammation, resulting in delayed or misdiagnosis with subsequent inappropriate management. Optimal therapy is a challenge for oncologists and ophthalmologists.

Cocho L, Gonzalez-Gonzalez LA, Molina-Prat N, Doctor P, Sainz-de-la-Maza M, Foster SC. Scleritis in patients with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener). Br J Ophthalmol 2016;100(8):1062-5.Abstract

AIMS: To describe and compare clinical features, complications and outcomes in patients with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)-associated scleritis with those seen in idiopathic and other autoimmune-associated scleritis, and to further describe the features that may serve as an indicator of life-threatening systemic disease. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed electronic health records of all patients with scleritis seen at two tertiary care centres. Of 500 patients, 14 had GPA-associated scleritis and were included in this analysis. Measures included were age, gender, laterality, visual acuity and underlying systemic or ocular diseases. Clinical features (location, pain, inflammation) and ocular complications of these patients (decrease of vision, concomitant anterior uveitis and ocular hypertension) were studied and correlated. RESULTS: Fourteen of 500 patients with scleritis were GPA associated. Most of the patients with GPA-associated scleritis presented with sudden onset, bilateral, diffuse anterior scleral inflammation, with moderate-or-severe pain. Vision loss was not significantly different, and pain was more severe in these patients than in those with idiopathic scleritis. When compared with patients with other underlying autoimmune diseases, there were no significant differences found in epidemiological or clinical signs. Necrotising scleritis and corneal involvement were more commonly observed in GPA than in idiopathic scleritis and other autoimmune diseases and are often the presenting feature of the disease. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of necrotising changes or corneal involvement in the setting of scleral inflammation is highly suggestive of an underlying systemic vasculitis, of which GPA is the most common. These features should alert the doctor/optometrist and prompt a thorough diagnostic approach and an aggressive treatment given that it could reveal a life-threatening disease.

Fox AR, Gordon LK, Heckenlively JR, Davis JL, Goldstein DA, Lowder CY, Nussenblatt RB, Butler NJ, Dalal M, Jayasundera T, Smith WM, Lee RW, Adamus G, Chan C-C, Hooks JJ, Morgans CW, Detrick B, Sen NH. Consensus on the Diagnosis and Management of Nonparaneoplastic Autoimmune Retinopathy Using a Modified Delphi Approach. Am J Ophthalmol 2016;168:183-90.Abstract

PURPOSE: To develop diagnostic criteria for nonparaneoplastic autoimmune retinopathy (AIR) through expert panel consensus and to examine treatment patterns among clinical experts. DESIGN: Modified Delphi process. METHODS: A survey of uveitis specialists in the American Uveitis Society, a face-to-face meeting (AIR Workshop) held at the National Eye Institute, and 2 iterations of expert panel surveys were used in a modified Delphi process. The expert panel consisted of 17 experts, including uveitis specialists and researchers with expertise in antiretinal antibody detection. Supermajority consensus was used and defined as 75% of experts in agreement. RESULTS: There was unanimous agreement among experts regarding the categorization of autoimmune retinopathies as nonparaneoplastic and paraneoplastic, including cancer-associated retinopathy and melanoma-associated retinopathy. Diagnostic criteria and tests essential to the diagnosis of nonparaneoplastic AIR and multiple supportive criteria reached consensus. For treatment, experts agreed that corticosteroids and conventional immunosuppressives should be used (prescribed) as first- or second-line treatments, though a consensus agreed that biologics and intravenous immunoglobulin were considered appropriate in the treatment of nonparaneoplastic AIR patients regardless of the stage of disease. Experts agreed that more evidence is needed to treat nonparaneoplastic AIR patients with long-term immunomodulatory therapy and that there is enough equipoise to justify randomized, placebo-controlled trials to determine if nonparaneoplastic AIR patients should be treated with long-term immunomodulatory therapy. Regarding antiretinal antibody detection, consensus agreed that a standardized assay system is needed to detect serum antiretinal antibodies. Consensus agreed that an ideal assay should have a 2-tier design and that Western blot and immunohistochemistry should be the methods used to identify antiretinal antibodies. CONCLUSIONS: Consensus was achieved using a modified Delphi process to develop diagnostic criteria for nonparaneoplastic AIR. There is enough equipoise to justify randomized, placebo-controlled trials to determine whether patients with nonparaneoplastic AIR should be treated with long-term immunomodulatory therapy. Efforts to develop a standardized 2-tier assay system for the detection of antiretinal antibodies have been initiated as a result of this study.

Cho H, Shin YU, Siegel NH, Yu HG, Sobrin L, Patel A, Durand ML, Miller JW, Husain D. Endogenous Endophthalmitis in the American and Korean Population: An 8-year Retrospective Study. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2016;:1-8.Abstract

PURPOSE: To study the clinical features of endogenous endophthalmitis (EE) in sample patient populations from the USA and South Korea over an 8-year period. METHODS: We reviewed data from 128 eyes of 60 American and 48 Korean patients diagnosed with EE and compared their clinical characteristics. RESULTS: Fungemia and liver abscess were the most common extraocular infection sources among American (26.7%) and Korean patients (33.3%), respectively. Klebsiella pneumoniae and Candida species were the most common pathogens of EE in the Korean and the American patients, respectively. Endophthalmitis caused by fungi had a better visual prognosis than that caused by bacteria (p = 0.001). Vitrectomy was beneficial for eyes with EE due to virulent bacteria presenting with worse than counting finger vision. CONCLUSIONS: The predisposing conditions and responsible organisms for EE vary in different regions of the world. The visual prognosis was strongly influenced by the underlying pathogen.

Ebrahimiadib N, Modjtahedi BS, Roohipoor R, Anesi SD, Foster SC. Successful Treatment Strategies in Granulomatosis With Polyangiitis-Associated Peripheral Ulcerative Keratitis. Cornea 2016;35(11):1459-1465.Abstract

PURPOSE: Management of granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)-associated peripheral ulcerative keratitis (PUK) is challenging and lacks definite guidelines. We aimed to summarize our treatment and outcome experience with patients with GPA-PUK. METHODS: The Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution patient database was searched from 2005 to 2015 to identify patients with diagnosis of PUK who suffered from GPA. Individual patient histories were examined, and treatment strategies and outcomes were summarized. RESULTS: There were 16 patients who started treatment with a mean duration follow-up of 64 months (range: 12-110 mo). Rituximab and cyclophosphamide, either alone or in combination with other agents, were the most successful agents in controlling inflammation. Rituximab was administered in 11 patients with remission being achieved in all. Cyclophosphamide successfully controlled inflammation in 50% (5/10). Two of the patients (2/5, 40%) who had achieved initial control on cyclophosphamide had flares of their PUK. Two of 11 (18%) patients on rituximab had flares of scleritis and orbital inflammation but not PUK. Two patients, one in each treatment group, stopped treatment after achieving remission after 6 months of therapy but suffered disease recurrence within 2 months of treatment cessation. CONCLUSIONS: Rituximab achieved a high rate of disease control in PUK patients with GPA and is the preferred agent in halting disease progression.

Suelves AM, Lamba N, Meese HK, Foster SC, González-Martín JM, Díaz-Llopis M, Christen WG. Nuclear cataract as an early predictive factor for recalcitrant juvenile idiopathic arthritis-associated uveitis. J AAPOS 2016;20(3):232-238.e1.Abstract

PURPOSE: To analyze factors predictive of having treatment-resistant uveitis in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)-associated uveitis. METHODS: The medical records of patients diagnosed with JIA-associated uveitis treated at a single tertiary referral center from October 2005 to March 2013 were reviewed retrospectively. The main outcome measures were demographic characteristics, ocular comorbidity, clinical course, treatments, and baseline risk factors associated with poor response to first-line therapies. RESULTS: A total of 96 patients (175 eyes) were included. Of these, 58 patients (108 eyes) required biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or alkylating agents for their uveitis during follow-up (recalcitrant group), and 38 patients (67 eyes) did not (nonrecalcitrant group). Eyes of the recalcitrant group tended to have a higher incidence of cataract at baseline (49%; P < 0.0001). In the nonrecalcitrant group, the most frequent complications were cataract (20.9%) and secondary glaucoma (20.9%). The mean number of flares in the recalcitrant group was significantly reduced from 3.7/eye/year prior to cataract surgery to 1.6/eye/year after (P < 0.0001). Nuclear cataract was found to be an independent predictor for a severe course of JIA-associated uveitis. Any other type of cataract, posterior synechiae, male sex, or active uveitis at baseline were not found to be independently associated with recalcitrant uveitis. CONCLUSIONS: Nuclear cataract at baseline evaluation is a risk factor for poor response to first-line therapies in JIA-associated uveitis patients.

Queisi MM, Zein M, Lamba N, Meese H, Foster CS. Update on ocular cicatricial pemphigoid and emerging treatments. Surv Ophthalmol 2016;61(3):314-7.Abstract

Mucous membrane pemphigoid is a systemic disorder that primarily affects mucous membranes. When localized to the conjunctiva, it is known as ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, a potentially blinding disease. Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid is an indication for systemic immunosuppressive treatment to achieve adequate remission. Immunosuppressive agents are selected with a "stepladder" approach, commencing with medications having the fewest side effects. We provide an update of the literature on immunomodulatory agents since 2011 as additional treatment modalities have been explored in the last 4 years.

Oray M, Meese H, Foster SC. Diagnosis and management of non-infectious immune-mediated scleritis: current status and future prospects. Expert Rev Clin Immunol 2016;12(8):827-37.Abstract

Scleritis is an inflammatory process of the sclera and adjacent tissues with a wide spectrum of clinical presentations and co-morbidities. Careful clinical history taking, detailed ocular examination, and appropriate investigation for likelihood of an underlying systemic disease are essential for diagnosis. Treatment can be quite challenging in some cases. Conventional therapy with corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents may not be sufficient to control ocular inflammation in refractory patients. In such cases new therapeutic agents, which have a more targeted and sustained effect on the immune response, so-called biologic response modifiers, are being used. This review focuses on both diagnosis and therapeutic options including traditional and emerging therapies of non-infectious scleritis.

Silpa-Archa S, Silpa-Archa N, Preble JM, Foster SC. Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome: Perspectives for immunogenetics, multimodal imaging, and therapeutic options. Autoimmun Rev 2016;15(8):809-19.Abstract

Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome (VKH) is a bilateral, diffuse granulomatous uveitis associated with neurological, audiovestibular, and dermatological systems. The primary pathogenesis is T-cell-mediated autoimmune response directed towards melanocyte or melanocyte-associated antigens causing inflammation of the choroidal layer. This phenomenon usually leads to diffuse inflammatory conditions throughout most parts of eye before ocular complications ensue. The diagnosis is achieved mainly by clinical features according to the revised diagnostic criteria of VKH published in 2001, without confirmatory serologic tests as a requirement. However, ancillary tests, especially multimodal imaging, can reliably provide supportive evidence for the diagnosis of early cases, atypical presentations, and evaluation of management. Prompt treatment with systemic corticosteroids and early non-steroidal immunosuppressive drug therapy can lessen visually threatening ocular complications and bring about good visual recovery. Close monitoring warrants visual stabilization from disease recurrence and ocular complications. This article review aims not only to update comprehensive knowledge regarding VKH but also to emphasize three major perspectives of VKH: immunogenetics as the major pathogenesis of the disease, multimodal imaging, and therapeutic options. The role of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy and drug-induced VKH is also provided.