Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease is an ocular inflammatory disease and is considered to be a cell-mediated, autoimmune disease against melanocytes. To learn more about the mechanisms involved in VKH disease, the identification of the antigens specific to the disease and the development of an animal model are critically important. We have expressed and purified the melanocyte specific proteins, tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TRP1) and 2 (TRP2). Lewis rats developed an ocular and extraocular inflammatory disease 12 days after immunization with TRP1 or TRP2 that was characterized clinically by the infiltration of inflammatory cells and accumulation of massive fibrin in the anterior and posterior chambers of the eye. Histologically, inflammatory cells were found in the anterior and posterior chambers, iris, ciliary body, the choroid, subretinal space and vitreous body. In severe cases, a serous detachment of the retina was observed. In mild cases, focal inflammatory lesions surrounded by normal chorioretinal architecture were observed and the inflammation persisted for more than 42 days after the injection. Some eyes showed accumulation of epithelioid cells in the choroid or the retinal pigment epithelium which were similar to the Dalen-Fuchs nodules found in patients with VKH disease. The alterations of the photoreceptor outer segment and the outer nuclear layer were less severe than in experimental autoimmune uveitis induced by retinal antigens. Extraocular manifestations such as skin lesions and meningitis were also observed. The clinical course and histological findings in these rats resembled the changes in patients with VKH disease.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.