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The “immune privilege” that inhibits immune defense mechanisms that could lead to damage to sensitive ocular tissue is based on the expression of immunosuppressive factors on ocular tissue and in ocular fluids. In addition to this environmental protection, the injection of antigen into the anterior chamber or infection in the anterior chamber induces a systemic suppression of potentially damaging cell-mediated and humoral responses to the antigen. Here we discuss evidence that suggests that Anterior Chamber-Associated Immune Deviation (ACAID)a is initiated by an ocular response to moderate inflammation that leads to a systemic immunoregulatory response. Injection into the anterior chamber induces a rise in TNF-α and MCP-1 in aqueous humor and an infiltration of circulating F4/80+ monocytes that home to the iris. The induction of ACAID is dependent on this infiltration of circulating monocytes that eventually emigrate to the thymus and spleen where they induce regulatory T cells that inhibit the inductive or effector phases of a cell-mediated immune response. ACAID therefore protects the eye from the collateral damage of an immune response to infection by suppressing a future potentially damaging response to infection.
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