PD-L1 expression on human ocular cells and its possible role in regulating immune-mediated ocular inflammation

Wanhua Yang, Haochuan Li, Peter W. Chen, Hassan Alizadeh, Yuguang He, R. Nick Hogan, Jerry Y. Niederkorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To assess the expression of PD-L1 and PD-L2 on human ocular cells and their potential to regulate ocular in-flammation. METHODS. Five categories of human ocular cells were evaluated for PD-L1 and PD-L2 expression by RT-PCR and flow cytometry. Three normal eyes and an inflamed eye from a patient with sympathetic ophthalmia were examined by immunohistochemistry for in situ PD-L1 expression. The immunomodulatory functions of PD-L1 and PD-L2 were tested by coculturing untreated or IFN-γ-pretreated ocular cells with activated human peripheral blood T cells for 48 hours and assessing T-cell production of IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-4, and IL-5 by ELISA and T-cell apoptosis by flow cytometry. RESULTS. PD-L1 protein was expressed constitutively in 4 of 5 human ocular cell lines, and its expression was significantly upregulated after stimulation by IFN-γ. Moreover, in situ expression of PD-L1 in inflamed ocular tissues was remarkably upregulated compared with normal eyes. Although PD-L2 expression was detectable by flow cytometry on 3 of 5 ocular cell lines, immunohistochemical staining did not show expression of PD-L2 on either normal or inflamed ocular tissues. IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-5 production by activated T cells cocultured with ocular cells was significantly enhanced in the presence of anti-PD-L1 blocking antibody. However, ocular cell- expressed PD-L1 and PD-L2 did not induce T-cell apoptosis. CONCLUSIONS. PD-L1 expressed on human ocular cells has a presumptive role in controlling ocular inflammation by inhibiting the production of proinflammatory cytokines and a Th2 cytokine by activated T cells. This may represent an important mechanism for maintaining immune privilege in the eye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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