Purpose: Allergic conjunctivitis is characterized by allergen-specific IgE in the serum and infiltration of eosinophils into the conjunctiva. However, it remains unclear whether early-phase reaction (EPR) mediated by Ag-specific IgE links to late-phase reaction (LPR) in the conjunctiva. We aimed to investigate whether LPR is mediated by either cellular or humoral immune responses.
Methods: Experimental immune-mediated blepharoconjunctivitis (EC) was induced in C57BL/6 mice by either active immunization or passive immunization by transfer of ragweed (RW)-primed lymphocytes and RW-specific IgE, followed by RW challenge onto the conjunctiva. Transferring RW-primed lymphocytes were prepared from RW-primed splenocytes which were stimulated in vitro with RW for 3 days. Fifteen minutes after RW challenge, clinical findings were evaluated and 24 hr after challenge, the conjunctivas and sera were harvested for histologic analysis and measurement of IgE, respectively.
Results: EPR was most prominent when EC was induced by transfer of RW-specific IgE. EPR was hardly detectable if EC was induced by transfer of RW-primed lymphocytes. Mild EPR was noted when EC was induced by active immunization. LPR, evaluated by infiltration of eosinophils into the conjunctiva, was most severe when EC was induced by transfer of RW-primed lymphocytes. Minimal, but definite LPR was induced when EC was induced by transfer of RW-specific IgE. Intermediate severity of LPR was induced when EC was induced by active immunization.
Conclusions: LPR in the conjunctiva is dominantly mediated by cellular immune responses, whereas EPR in the conjunctiva is putatively mediated by humoral immune responses. Importantly, LPR in the conjunctiva is inducible by Ag-specific IgE alone, although minute.