Background: To investigate the potential contribution of inflammatory and immune-mediated processes contributing to the pathogenesis of proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR), an immunohistochemical study was undertaken to characterize the infiltrating inflammatory cells in epiretinal membranes surgically removed from the eyes of patients with PVR.
Methods: Twenty-one epiretinal membranes obtained surgically from eyes with PVR complicating rhegmatogenous retinal detachment were studied immunohistochemically using the ABC technique and a panel of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies.
Results: T lymphocytes were found in 18 of the 21 specimens and generally constituted a small percentage of the total cell number. CD4+ T cells were found in 14 of the 18 membranes containing T cells. Three of six frozen membranes contained T cells that were positive for the interleukin-2 receptor. In 5 of 16 membranes studied, cells positive for the macrophage/monocyte marker were found. No B lymphocytes or neutrophils were identified, and there were no deposits of complement or immunoglobulins. Positive staining for the class II MHC antigen HLA-DR was found in 7 of the 21 membranes, a result that was more consistent in frozen than in fixed tissues.
Conclusion: The study suggests that T lymphocytes are present in PVR epiretinal membranes and may be activated. These cells have the potential to play a role in the pathobiology of PVR.