The asymmetric protein expression hypothesis - Explaining the unilaterality of HLA-B27-positive acute anterior uveitides

Med Hypotheses. 2016 Mar:88:10-1. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2015.12.024. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


For reasons still unclear, most HLA-B27-positive acute anterior uveitides occur unilaterally. Building upon the growing literature showing that left-right asymmetry exist at the biomolecular and at the cellular levels, we propose a new hypothesis to explain why HLA-B27-positive acute anterior uveitides tend to affect one eye selectively. We postulate that left and right uveal tissue may present quantitatively and qualitatively different proteins to the immune system, capable to trigger an autoimmune response, and that other variables, including anatomical, cellular and molecular barriers, as well as our own eye-derived immunological tolerance and immune suppressive intraocular microenvironment may also be unequally distributed, and impact differently the immune privileges of the left and right eye. These same quantitative and qualitative differences might also explain why HLA-B27-positive acute anterior uveitides can flip-flop between the left and the right eye, after the first attack. By trying to figure out why one eye is targeted by an autoimmune reaction while the other is clinically unaffected, we might be able to better understand how and why an autoimmune reaction starts. Hopefully, this will help us devise better treatments for ocular autoimmune diseases, and contribute to the management of autoinflammatory conditions with a marked asymmetric clinical presentation in other fields.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Autoimmunity
  • Epitopes / chemistry
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • HLA-B27 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Inflammation
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Uveitis, Anterior / immunology*
  • Uveitis, Anterior / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Epitopes
  • HLA-B27 Antigen