Immunology and Uveitis

Abusamra K, Valdes-Navarro M, Lee S, Swan R, Foster SC, Anesi SD. A case of bilateral uveitis and papillitis in a patient treated with pembrolizumab. Eur J Ophthalmol 2016;26(3):e46-8.Abstract

PURPOSE: Drug-induced uveitis is a well-known effect of ocular inflammation that has been reported with many medications. Pembrolizumab is a newer generation of the anti-programmed cell death-1 monoclonal antibodies that was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of advanced melanoma. Immune-mediated adverse events involving different organs have been reported in recent literature in association with this drug. We present the first reported case of uveitis in association with pembrolizumab therapy. CASE REPORT: An 82-year-old man with stage IV melanoma was started on pembrolizumab infusion treatment every 3 weeks. Two months after initiating therapy, he presented with bilateral severe anterior uveitis and papillitis with fast and complete recovery after withholding further pembrolizumab infusions and treatment with topical steroid. Uveitis recurred after restarting pembrolizumab therapy. CONCLUSIONS: In current clinical practice, many new drugs are being approved, requiring better characterization of the prevalence, onset, and nature of adverse events in order to aid development of effective management strategies. Ophthalmologists should keep in mind that drugs are always a possible cause of ocular inflammation in patients presenting with uveitis.

Oray M, Khachatryan N, Ebrahimiadib N, Abusamra K, Lee S, Foster SC. Ocular morbidities of juvenile idiopathic arthritis-associated uveitis in adulthood: results from a tertiary center study. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 2016;254(9):1841-9.Abstract

PURPOSE: To describe the clinical and visual outcomes of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)-associated uveitis in adults and to examine risk factors for ongoing inflammation in adulthood. METHODS: Medical records were reviewed for patients with JIA-associated uveitis who were >16 years old at the final visit (the last visit prior to data collection). RESULTS: In total, 135 eyes of 77 patients (70 female, 7 male) were included. The mean age of patients at the final visit was 29.72 ± 11.27 years. The number of eyes with visual acuity of ≤20/50 and ≤20/200 at the final visit was 37 (28 %) and 20 (15 %), respectively; at least one ocular complication was present in 72 % of eyes. Band keratopathy was the most frequent complication (42 %), followed by cataract (25 %), posterior synechiae (22 %), maculopathy (22 %), ocular hypertension (13 %), and hypotony (5 %). At the final visit, patients who were >16 years of age at presentation to the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution had more ocular complications and a greater degree of vision loss than patients who were ≤16 years of age. Ongoing inflammation at the final visit was noted in 40 patients (52 %). The presence of posterior synechiae, hypotony, cataract at presentation, and a history of cataract surgery prior to presentation were predictive of ongoing inflammation in adulthood in univariate analysis. The presence of hypotony and posterior synechiae at the initial visit were predictive factors in multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS: JIA-associated uveitis may be associated with ongoing inflammation, ocular complications, and severe visual impairment in adulthood. The presence of posterior synechiae and hypotony at the initial visit is predictive of ongoing inflammation.

Silpa-Archa S, Cao JH, Boonsopon S, Lee J, Preble JM, Foster SC. Birdshot Retinochoroidopathy: Differences in Clinical Characteristics between Patients with Early and Late Age of Onset. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2016;:1-7.Abstract

PURPOSE: To describe differences in the clinical characteristics of birdshot retinochoroidopathy (BSRC) patients diagnosed early and later in life. METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study. Age was primarily analyzed and 50 years of age at diagnosis was selected as a cut-off point. RESULTS: A total of 144 patients (288 eyes) were included; 68 with early-onset and 76 with late-onset BSRC. The younger group had a statistically significant higher rate of more severe iritis (p = 0.04); an average number of non-steroidal immunosuppressants and biologic agents (NSIB) (p = 0.04); and a prolonged time to initiation of NSIB (p = 0.01). There were only four patients (3%) who had >0.5+ cells in the anterior chamber. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with early-onset BSRC carried a higher risk for anterior segment inflammation, had a more prolonged delay to initiation of treatment with NSIB, and required a greater number of NSIBs to achieve remission.

Silpa-Archa S, Oray M, Preble JM, Foster CS. Outcome of tocilizumab treatment in refractory ocular inflammatory diseases. Acta Ophthalmol 2016;94(6):e400-6.Abstract

PURPOSE: To report the outcomes of tocilizumab treatment for refractory ocular inflammatory diseases. METHODS: A retrospective case series of 17 patients (28 eyes) diagnosed with recalcitrant ocular inflammatory diseases including uveitis (10 cases), scleritis (six cases) and orbital pseudotumour (one case), who received tocilizumab between April 2010 and March 2015. All patients were initiated with treatment of 4 mg/kg or 8 mg/kg tocilizumab. The primary outcome was absence of inflammation and achievement of steroid sparing at 6 and 9 months. Secondary outcomes were change in visual acuity and major adverse effects of tocilizumab causing discontinuation of the treatment. RESULTS: Mean age at initiation of tocilizumab was 41 ± 16 years. Prior to tocilizumab treatment, all patients underwent unsuccessful conventional immunosuppressive therapy while 94% of patients (16/17) failed treatment with various biological agents. After tocilizumab administration, control of inflammation and steroid sparing were achieved in 63% and 71% of uveitis patients at 6 and 9 months, while 50% of scleritis patients achieved the primary outcome at 6 and 9 months. Mean duration of tocilizumab therapy was 12.6 ± 10.0 (range, 2-35) months. Three of four patients who had a follow-up of at least 18 (range, 18-35) months experienced quiescent inflammation for up to 32 months of tocilizumab use until last visit. Four patients (24%) discontinued tocilizumab due to serious side effects including neutropenia, unacceptable dizziness and nausea, severe angioedema and severe abdominal pain. CONCLUSION: Our series demonstrated moderate efficacy of tocilizumab in recalcitrant uveitis and scleritis. Serious adverse effects were not uncommon.

Durrani K, Kempen JH, Ying G-S, Kacmaz OR, Artornsombudh P, Rosenbaum JT, Suhler EB, Thorne JE, Jabs DA, Levy-Clarke GA, Nussenblatt RB, Foster SC, Foster SC. Adalimumab for Ocular Inflammation. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2016;:1-8.Abstract

PURPOSE: To evaluate adalimumab as an immunomodulatory treatment for non-infectious ocular inflammatory diseases. METHODS: Characteristics of patients treated with adalimumab were abstracted in a standardized chart review. Main outcomes measured were control of inflammation, corticosteroid-sparing effect, and visual acuity. RESULTS: In total, 32 patients with ocular inflammation were treated with adalimumab. The most common ophthalmic diagnoses were anterior uveitis, occurring in 15 patients (47%), and scleritis, occurring in 9 patients (28%). At 6 months of therapy, among 15 eyes with active inflammation, 7 (47%) became completely inactive, and oral prednisone was reduced to ≤10 mg/day in 2 of 4 patients (50%). On average, visual acuity decreased by 0.13 lines during the first 6 months of treatment. Adalimumab was discontinued because of lack of effectiveness in four patients within 6 months. CONCLUSIONS: Adalimumab was moderately effective in controlling inflammation in a group of highly pre-treated cases of ocular inflammatory disease.

Sainz-de-la-Maza M, Molins B, Mesquida M, Llorenç V, Zarranz-Ventura J, Sala-Puigdollers A, Matas J, Adan A, Foster SC. Interleukin-22 serum levels are elevated in active scleritis. Acta Ophthalmol 2016;Abstract
PURPOSE: To evaluate serum cytokine profile from patients with active scleritis in a two-centre prospective case-control study. METHODS: The serum of 20 active scleritis patients not treated with any local, periocular, or systemic immunomodulatory therapy (IMT) was analysed with multiplex assay to determine the levels of 11 cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-2, IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-12p40, IL-13, IL-17A, IL-5, TNF-α, and TNF-β, and with ELISA to determine the levels of TGF-β1, IL-22, and IL-23. Twenty-five age-matched healthy volunteers were used as controls. In a subgroup of 13 patients with active disease, a second serum sample was obtained when the disease was inactive and levels of IL-22 were determined. Serum IL-22 levels from patients with active scleritis were correlated with type of scleritis (non-necrotizing and necrotizing), degree of inflammation (0-4+ :≤2+ and >2+), and associated systemic disease. RESULTS: Serum levels of IL-22 were elevated in active scleritis patients compared to controls (6.41 ± 1.52 pg/ml versus 1.93 ± 0.39 pg/ml, p = 0.012) and significantly decreased after scleritis remission with the use of IMT (p = 0.005). There was no statistical association with scleritis type, degree of inflammation, or associated systemic disease. The serum levels of other cytokines were not significantly different from controls. CONCLUSION: In our study cohort, IL-22 serum levels were significantly elevated in active scleritis patients compared to controls and decreased significantly after remission. Our results suggest that IL-22, a T helper (Th) 17- and Th22- derived cytokine, may play a critical role in the physiopathology of scleritis.
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.

Patel AK, Newcomb CW, Liesegang TL, Pujari SS, Suhler EB, Thorne JE, Foster SC, Jabs DA, Levy-Clarke GA, Nussenblatt RB, Rosenbaum JT, Sen NH, Artornsombudh P, Kothari S, Kempen JH, for Group SITEDR. Risk of Retinal Neovascularization in Cases of Uveitis. Ophthalmology 2016;123(3):646-54.Abstract

PURPOSE: To evaluate the risk of and risk factors for retinal neovascularization (NV) in cases of uveitis. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with uveitis at 4 US academic ocular inflammation subspecialty practices. METHODS: Data were ascertained by standardized chart review. Prevalence data analysis used logistic regression. Incidence data analysis used survival analysis with time-updated covariates where appropriate. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence and incidence of NV. RESULTS: Among uveitic eyes of 8931 patients presenting for initial evaluation, 106 of 13 810 eyes had NV (prevalence = 0.77%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.60-0.90). Eighty-eight more eyes developed NV over 26 465 eye-years (incidence, 0.33%/eye-year; 95% CI, 0.27-0.41). Factors associated with incident NV include age <35 years compared with >35 years (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 2.4; 95% CI, 1.5-3.9), current cigarette smoking (aHR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.1-3.4), and systemic lupus erythematosus (aHR, 3.5, 95% CI, 1.1-11). Recent diagnosis of uveitis was associated with an increased incidence of NV (compared with patients diagnosed >5 years ago, aHR, 2.4 [95% CI, 1.1-5.0] and aHR, 2.6 [95% CI, 1.2-6.0] for diagnosis within <1 year vs. 1-5 years, respectively). Compared with anterior uveitis, intermediate uveitis (aHR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.5-6.6), posterior uveitis (aHR, 5.2; 95% CI, 2.5-11), and panuveitis (aHR, 4.3; 95% CI, 2.0-9.3) were associated with a similar degree of increased NV incidence. Active (aHR, 2.1, 95% CI, 1.2-3.7) and slightly active (aHR, 2.4, 95% CI, 1.3-4.4) inflammation were associated with an increased incidence of NV compared with inactive inflammation. Neovascularization incidence also was increased with retinal vascular occlusions (aHR, 10, 95% CI, 3.0-33), retinal vascular sheathing (aHR, 2.6, 95% CI, 1.4-4.9), and exudative retinal detachment (aHR, 4.1, 95% CI, 1.3-13). Diabetes mellitus was associated with a somewhat increased incidence of retinal NV (aHR, 2.3, 95% CI, 1.1-4.9), and systemic hypertension (aHR 1.5, 95% CI, 0.89-2.4) was associated with nonsignificantly increased NV incidence. Results were similar in sensitivity analyses excluding the small minority of patients with diabetes mellitus. CONCLUSIONS: Retinal NV is a rare complication of uveitis, which occurs more frequently in younger patients, smokers, and those with intermediate/posterior/panuveitis, systemic vasculopathy, retinal vascular disease, or active inflammation. Inflammation and retinal NV likely are linked; additional studies are needed to further elucidate this connection.

Sainz-de-la-Maza M, Molina N, Gonzalez-Gonzalez LA, Doctor PP, Tauber J, Foster SC. Scleritis associated with relapsing polychondritis. Br J Ophthalmol 2016;100(9):1290-4.Abstract

AIMS: To evaluate ocular disease characteristics and successful therapeutic regimens in patients with scleritis associated with relapsing polychondritis (RP). To compare these features with those seen in patients with scleritis associated with other systemic immune-mediated diseases (SIMD). METHODS: Electronic health records of 13 scleritis patients associated with RP were analysed and compared with those of 113 scleritis patients associated with other SIMD seen at two tertiary referral centres. RESULTS: Scleritis in patients with RP was often bilateral (92.3%), diffuse (76.9%), recurrent (84.6%), sometimes with decreased vision (46.2%), anterior uveitis (38.5%), peripheral keratitis (15.4%) and ocular hypertension (30.8%). Patients with scleritis associated with RP more often had bilateral scleritis (p=0.001), necrotising scleritis (23.1%; p=0.02), recurrences (p=0.001) and decreased vision (three of the six with legal blindness; p=0.012), as compared with patients who had scleritis associated with other SIMD. Nine patients (69.2%) had one or more SIMD other than RP, including systemic vasculitis (4) or other autoimmune disease (8); they antedated RP by 9 years (range 2-21 years). Successful therapy included cyclophosphamide (5), methotrexate (3), azathioprine (3), mycophenolate mofetil (2), infliximab (2) and adalimumab (1). CONCLUSIONS: Scleritis may be the first manifestation whose study leads to the diagnosis of RP. Scleritis associated with RP is more often bilateral, necrotising, recurrent and associated with decrease of vision than scleritis associated with other SIMD. About 69.2% of patients will have an additional SIMD disorder. Scleritis associated with RP most often will require immunomodulatory therapy. Occasionally, scleritis with RP may appear while using antitumor necrosis factor α agents.

Smith RE, Reyes NJ, Khandelwal P, Schlereth SL, Lee HS, Masli S, Saban DR. Secondary allergic T cell responses are regulated by dendritic cell-derived thrombospondin-1 in the setting of allergic eye disease. J Leukoc Biol 2016;100(2):371-80.Abstract

Allergic eye disease, as in most forms of atopy, ranges in severity among individuals from immediate hypersensitivity to a severe and debilitating chronic disease. Dendritic cells play a key role in stimulating pathogenic T cells in allergen re-exposure, or secondary responses. However, molecular cues by dendritic cells underpinning allergic T cell response levels and the impact that this control has on consequent severity of allergic disease are poorly understood. Here, we show that a deficiency in thrombospondin-1, a matricellular protein known to affect immune function, has subsequent effects on downstream T cell responses during allergy, as revealed in an established mouse model of allergic eye disease. More specifically, we demonstrate that a thrombospondin-1 deficiency specific to dendritic cells leads to heightened secondary T cell responses and consequent clinical disease. Interestingly, whereas thrombospondin-1-deficient dendritic cells augmented activity of allergen-primed T cells, this increase was not recapitulated with naïve T cells in vitro. The role of dendritic cell-derived thrombospondin-1 in regulating secondary allergic T cell responses was confirmed in vivo, as local transfer of thrombospondin-1-sufficient dendritic cells to the ocular mucosa of thrombospondin-1 null hosts prevented the development of augmented secondary T cell responses and heightened allergic eye disease clinical responses. Finally, we demonstrate that topical instillation of thrombospondin-1-derived peptide reduces T cell activity and clinical progression of allergic eye disease. Taken together, this study reveals an important modulatory role of dendritic cell-derived thrombospondin-1 on secondary allergic T cell responses and suggests the possible dysregulation of dendritic cell-derived thrombospondin-1 expression as a factor in allergic eye disease severity.

Kempen JH, Gewaily DY, Newcomb CW, Liesegang TL, Kaçmaz OR, Levy-Clarke GA, Nussenblatt RB, Rosenbaum JT, Sen NH, Suhler EB, Thorne JE, Foster SC, Jabs DA, Payal A, Fitzgerald TD, for Group SITED (SITE) R. Remission of Intermediate Uveitis: Incidence and Predictive Factors. Am J Ophthalmol 2016;164:110-117.e2.Abstract

PURPOSE: To evaluate the incidence of remission among patients with intermediate uveitis; to identify factors potentially predictive of remission. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. METHODS: Involved eyes of patients with primary noninfectious intermediate uveitis at 4 academic ocular inflammation subspecialty practices, followed sufficiently long to meet the remission outcome definition, were studied retrospectively by standardized chart review data. Remission of intermediate uveitis was defined as a lack of inflammatory activity at ≥2 visits spanning ≥90 days in the absence of any corticosteroid or immunosuppressant medications. Factors potentially predictive of intermediate uveitis remission were evaluated using survival analysis. RESULTS: Among 849 eyes (of 510 patients) with intermediate uveitis followed over 1934 eye-years, the incidence of intermediate uveitis remission was 8.6/100 eye-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.4-10.1). Factors predictive of disease remission included prior pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) (hazard ratio [HR] [vs no PPV] = 2.39; 95% CI, 1.42-4.00), diagnosis of intermediate uveitis within the last year (HR [vs diagnosis >5 years ago] =3.82; 95% CI, 1.91-7.63), age ≥45 years (HR [vs age <45 years] = 1.79; 95% CI, 1.03-3.11), female sex (HR = 1.61; 95% CI, 1.04-2.49), and Hispanic race/ethnicity (HR [vs white race] = 2.81; 95% CI, 1.23-6.41). Presence/absence of a systemic inflammatory disease, laterality of uveitis, and smoking status were not associated with differential incidence. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that intermediate uveitis is a chronic disease with an overall low rate of remission. Recently diagnosed patients and older, female, and Hispanic patients were more likely to remit. With regard to management, pars plana vitrectomy was associated with increased probability of remission.

Silpa-Archa S, Lee JJ, Foster SC. Ocular manifestations in systemic lupus erythematosus. Br J Ophthalmol 2016;100(1):135-41.Abstract

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can involve many parts of the eye, including the eyelid, ocular adnexa, sclera, cornea, uvea, retina and optic nerve. Ocular manifestations of SLE are common and may lead to permanent blindness from the underlying disease or therapeutic side effects. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is the most common manifestation. However, vision loss may result from involvement of the retina, choroid and optic nerve. Ocular symptoms are correlated to systemic disease activity and can present as an initial manifestation of SLE. The established treatment includes prompt systemic corticosteroids, steroid-sparing immunosuppressive drugs and biological agents. Local ocular therapies are options with promising efficacy. The early recognition of disease and treatment provides reduction of visual morbidity and mortality.

Abusamra K, Maghsoudlou A, Roohipoor R, Valdes-Navarro M, Lee S, Foster SC. Current Treatment Modalities of JIA-associated Uveitis and its Complications: Literature Review. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2016;24(4):431-9.Abstract

Uveitis is a common and serious complication of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Up to 75% of all cases of anterior uveitis in childhood are associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Despite the remarkable progress in early detection and treatment of inflammation, vision-threatening complications of uveitis still occur in almost 60% of patients. Structural complications include band keratopathy, maculopathy (macular edema, macular cysts, and epiretinal membrane), glaucomatous optic neuropathy, and cataracts. The management of complications in juvenile idiopathic arthritis is usually complex and requires early surgical intervention. In this paper, we review the general concepts of common ocular complications seen in patients with JIA-associated uveitis, with special attention to the recent diagnostic and preferred treatment approaches at the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution. Received 9 March 2015; revised 30 September 2015; accepted 30 October 2015; published online 14 January 2016.

Cao JH, Oray M, Cocho L, Foster SC. Rituximab in the Treatment of Refractory Noninfectious Scleritis. Am J Ophthalmol 2016;164:22-8.Abstract

PURPOSE: To describe the outcomes of the use of rituximab in the treatment of refractory noninfectious scleritis. DESIGN: Retrospective case series. METHODS: Review of the medical charts of patients with noninfectious scleritis refractory to conventional immunomodulatory therapy who were seen at the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution between 2005 and 2015. The primary outcome measure in this study was steroid-free remission. Secondary outcomes were favorable response (decrease in scleritis activity score) and decrease in steroid dependence. RESULTS: There were 15 patients, with a mean follow-up duration of 34 months. Fourteen patients (93.3%) showed a clinical improvement, with 13 (86.6%) achieving a scleritis activity score of zero at 6 months. To date, 2 patients continue to enjoy durable drug-free remission (28 and 32 months follow-up). There was only 1 adverse effect recorded (infusion hypotension) requiring cessation of rituximab. CONCLUSION: Rituximab can be an effective treatment modality for recalcitrant noninfectious scleritis and, in some, can result in long-term durable drug-free remission.

Faez S, Lobo A-M, Unizony SH, Stone JH, Papaliodis GN, Sobrin L. Ocular inflammatory disease in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica: A case series and review of the literature. Clin Rheumatol 2016;35(1):251-8.Abstract

Scleritis and uveitis are potentially blinding conditions that can be associated with systemic inflammatory diseases. Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a common rheumatic disorder of the elderly of uncertain etiology. Although there are a few published reports of scleritis and uveitis in PMR patients, the association of PMR to ocular inflammation has not been well established. The aim of this study is to report a series of PMR patients with scleritis and/or uveitis and review the prior published reports of this potential association. We retrospectively reviewed the medical charts of patients with PMR and scleritis or uveitis who were examined in the Ocular Immunology Service of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. We also performed a systematic literature search (PubMed; January 1990 until January 2014) to identify earlier published reports. Seven PMR patients with ocular inflammatory disease (OID) were included in our study: two with scleritis, three with anterior uveitis, and two with panuveitis. The onset of PMR preceded the occurrence of OID in six patients, and in one patient uveitis developed 2 months prior to PMR. Five patients demonstrated a temporal association between flares of PMR and OID. In four patients, OID flares developed during tapering of systemic prednisone prescribed for PMR. Four of the five patients who had relapsing PMR had recurrent or persistent uveitis over the course of follow-up. PMR may be associated with both scleritis and uveitis and should be considered as a possible underlying cause of OID.