Murine keratocytes function as antigen-presenting cells

Su K. Seo, Bryan M. Gebhardt, Ho Y. Lim, Sang W. Kang, Shiro Higaki, Emily D. Varnell, James M. Hill, Herbert E. Kaufman, Byoung S. Kwon E

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Keratocytes express MHC class I molecules constitutively, and keratocytes stimulated with IFN-γ express MHC class II molecules. Unstimulated keratocytes constitutively express B7-1 and ICAM-1, as well as low levels of CD40 and 4-1BBL. These findings indicate that keratocytes may deliver both antigen-specific and costimulatory signals to CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. To demonstrate that keratocytes expressing B7-1 provide a costimulatory signal to T cells, CD4+ or CD8+ mouse T cells were incubated with anti-CD3 mAb and irradiated keratocytes. Enhanced proliferation of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells occurred, and could be inhibited by anti-B7-1 mAb, indicating T cell costimulatory activity by B7-1 on the keratocytes. To demonstrate that keratocytes can deliver an antigen-specific signal, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from herpes-infected mice were incubated with HSV-1-infected, irradiated keratocytes. The resulting T cell proliferation and production of Th1 cytokines (IL-2, IFN-γ) indicated T cell activation by antigens presented by the infected keratocytes. These results show that keratocytes in the corneal stroma of the mouse can function as antigen-presenting cells and, thus, may play a role in immune-mediated stromal inflammation such as herpetic stromal keratitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3318-3328
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2001


  • B7-1
  • Costimulation
  • Herpetic stromal keratitis
  • Keratocyte
  • MHC class II


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