A Pyrrhic Victory: The PMN Response to Ocular Bacterial Infections

Microorganisms. 2019 Nov 7;7(11):537. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms7110537.


Some tissues of the eye are susceptible to damage due to their exposure to the outside environment and inability to regenerate. Immune privilege, although beneficial to the eye in terms of homeostasis and protection, can be harmful when breached or when an aberrant response occurs in the face of challenge. In this review, we highlight the role of the PMN (polymorphonuclear leukocyte) in different bacterial ocular infections that invade the immune privileged eye at the anterior and posterior segments: keratitis, conjunctivitis, uveitis, and endophthalmitis. Interestingly, the PMN response from the host seems to be necessary for pathogen clearance in ocular disease, but the inflammatory response can also be detrimental to vision retention. This "Pyrrhic Victory" scenario is explored in each type of ocular infection, with details on PMN recruitment and response at the site of ocular infection. In addition, we emphasize the differences in PMN responses between each ocular disease and its most common corresponding bacterial pathogen. The in vitro and animal models used to identify PMN responses, such as recruitment, phagocytosis, degranulation, and NETosis, are also outlined in each ocular infection. This detailed study of the ocular acute immune response to infection could provide novel therapeutic strategies for blinding diseases, provide more general information on ocular PMN responses, and reveal areas of bacterial ocular infection research that lack PMN response studies.

Keywords: bacteria; conjunctivitis; endophthalmitis; innate immunity; keratitis; neutrophils; polymorphonuclear leukocytes; uveitis.

Publication types

  • Review