Background: Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) is a widely used experimental animal model of human endogenous posterior uveoretinitis. In the present study, we performed in vivo imaging of the retina in transgenic reporter mice to investigate dynamic changes in exogenous inflammatory cells and endogenous immune cells during the disease process.
Methods: Transgenic mice (C57Bl/6 J Cx3 cr1GFP/+, C57Bl/6 N CD11c-eYFP, and C57Bl/6 J LysM-eGFP) were used to visualize the dynamic changes of myeloid-derived cells, putative dendritic cells and neutrophils during EAU. Transgenic mice were monitored with multi-modal fundus imaging camera over five time points following disease induction with the retinal auto-antigen, interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein (IRBP1-20). Disease severity was quantified with both clinical and histopathological grading.
Results: In the normal C57Bl/6 J Cx3 cr1GFP/+ mouse Cx3cr1-expressing microglia were evenly distributed in the retina. In C57Bl/6 N CD11c-eYFP mice clusters of CD11c-expressing cells were noted in the retina and in C57Bl/6 J LysM-eGFP mice very low numbers of LysM-expressing neutrophils were observed in the fundus. Following immunization with IRBP1-20, fundus examination revealed accumulations of Cx3cr1-GFP+ myeloid cells, CD11c-eYFP+ cells and LysM-eGFP+ myelomonocytic cells around the optic nerve head and along retinal vessels as early as day 14 post-immunization. CD11c-eYFP+ cells appear to resolve marginally earlier (day 21 post-immunization) than Cx3cr1-GFP+ and LysM-eGFP+ cells. The clinical grading of EAU in transgenic mice correlated closely with histopathological grading.
Conclusions: These results illustrate that in vivo fundus imaging of transgenic reporter mice allows direct visualization of various exogenously and endogenously derived leukocyte types during EAU progression. This approach acts as a valuable adjunct to other methods of studying the clinical course of EAU.