Effect of aqueous humor on apoptosis of inflammatory cell types

Thomas J. D'Orazio, Brendan M. DeMarco, Elizabeth S. Mayhew, Jerry Y. Niederkorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To determine whether aqueous humor promotes cell death in cells involved in inflammatory responses. METHODS. Multiple immune cell types, most characteristically involved in inflammatory responses, were incubated for 24, 48, and 72 hours in the presence or absence of 50% aqueous humor. Promotion of cell death was assayed by staining for an early indicator of apoptosis. The percentage of cells undergoing apoptosis was measured by flow cytometry. To identify partially the apoptosis-inducing factor, aqueous humor was pretreated with proteinase K to degrade protein. In other experiments, aqueous humor was fractionated by centrifugation on filters capable of separating molecules above and below 10 kDa or 30 kDa kilodaltons in size. RESULTS. Rabbit aqueous humor promoted apoptosis in a wide variety of immune cells, including lymphokine-activated natural killer cells, resting T cells, an activated T-cell line, RAW 264.7 and J774A0.1 monocyte-macrophage cell lines, and neutrophils. As previously shown, aqueous humor did not promote apoptosis of murine corneal endothelial cells. Apoptosis was also not induced in human corneal endothelium, mouse corneal epithelium, or iris/ciliary body cell lines. Instead, aqueous humor partially protected these ocular tissues from starvation-induced cell death. Pretreatment with proteinase K inhibited the apoptosis-inducing activity. Moreover, the apoptosis-inducing activity segregated with the aqueous humor fraction containing molecules less than than 10 kDa in size. CONCLUSIONS. These data show that aqueous humor contains a factor or factors that promote death of cells that participate in inflammatory processes. By contrast, ocular tissues, such as the corneal endothelium and iris/ciliary body, are impervious to aqueous humor-induced cell death. The aqueous humor- borne factor(s) may contribute to the immune privilege of the anterior chamber by purging potential inflammatory cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1426
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 9 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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