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Home » NEI Laboratories » Laboratory of Immunology » Immunoregulation Section

Immunoregulation Section

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The Section's interest is in cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in T cell-mediated, tissue-specific autoimmunity. The questions center on the development and maintenance of self-tolerance to immunologically privileged retinal antigens, and on defining the processes that lead to their pathological breakdown. The goal is to use this knowledge for designing novel and rational strategies for immunotherapy. Approaches and conclusions are generalizable to other tissue-specific autoimmune diseases.

The experimental approaches utilize the model of experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) that resembles immune-mediated uveitic diseases in humans. EAU is induced in mice and rats by immunization with retinal antigens or their fragments. The hereditary mechanisms that predispose to uveitis are studied by using EAU-susceptible and EAU-resistant strains of rodents and DNA microarrays. Uveitogenic T cell lines and clones are developed and studied, with the aim of devising ways to target the autopathogenic cells in vivo. Genetically altered (transgenic and "knockout") mice are used to evaluate the role of various components of the immune system in the immunopathogenesis of uveitis. Various strategies to induce long-lasting immunological tolerance to retinal antigens are explored as immunotherapy for EAU. Selected questions for which appropriate tools are not yet available in the EAU model are studied using related autoimmune disease models, e.g., experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Lastly, EAU serves as a template for the preclinical evaluation of new drugs and compounds as to their effects on the various stages of immunopathogenesis and disease expression.

Subjects under study include:

Specific information on the recent and current work of the Section can be found in the NIH Annual Reports database:


Name Title E-mail
Rachel Caspi, Ph.D.
PubMed Aurhor Search
Section Head
Phyllis Silver, B.S. Biologist
Anna Hansen, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow
Isabelle Suffia, PhD Research Fellow
Reiko Horai, PhD Staff Scientist
Mary Mattapallil, DVM, PhD Research Fellow
Ru Zhou, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow
Arrash Yazdani, BS Biologist
Rachael Rigden, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow
Dror Luger, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow

Recent Publications

Selected Review Papers

Caspi, Rachel R. The Role of Cytokines in Induction and Regulation of Autoimmune Uvetis. In: Cytokines and Autoimmune Diseases, (V.K. Kuchroo, N. Sarvetnick, D.A. Hafler and L.G. Nicholson, Eds.). pp. 227-245, Humana Press, Totowa NJ, 2001.
(Download as PDF file) *

Caspi, RR. Th1 and Th2 responses in pathogenesis and regulation of experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis. International Reviews of Immunology 21:197-208, 2002. (Download as PDF file) *

Pennesi, G and R.R. Caspi. Genetic control of susceptibility in clinical and experimental uveitis. International Reviews of Immunology 21:67-88, 2002. (Download as PDF file) *

R.K. Agarwal and R.R. Caspi Rodent models of experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU). In: Autoimmunity: Methods and Protocols, pp. 395–419, A. Perl (ed), Humana Press, NY (2004).
(Download as PDF file) *

Caspi, R.R. Animal models of autoimmune and immune-mediated uveitis. In: Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models. (Daniel Altman, issue Ed.) 3:3-9, 2006
(Download as PDF file) *

Caspi, R.R.; Mechanisms Underlying Autoimmune Uveitis In: Drug Discovery Today: Disease Mechanisms. (T. Delovitch and D. Scott, Ed.), 3:199-206, 2006.
(Download as PDF file) *

Caspi, R.R.: Ocular autoimmunity: The price of privilege? Immunol Rev. 213:23-35, Andrew Mellor and David Munn (issue eds). 2006.
(Download as PDF file) *

Caspi, R.R.: Autoimmunity in the immune privileged eye: Pathogenic and regulatory T cells. Immunological Reviews, online pub 10/2008.
(Download as PDF file) *

Selected Research Papers

Caspi, R.R., F.G. Roberge and R.B. Nussenblatt: Organ-resident nonlymphoid cells suppress autoimmune T-helper lymphocytes.  Science  237:1029-1032, 1987. (Medline)

Caspi, R.R., F.G. Roberge, C.-C. Chan, B. Wiggert, C.J. Chader, L.A. Rozenszajn, Z. Lando and R. B. Nussenblatt.  A  new model of autoimmune disease: experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis induced in mice with two different retinal antigens.  J. Immunol.  140:1490-1495, 1988. (Medline)

Roberge, F.G., R.R. Caspi and R.B. Nussenblatt.  Glial retinal Muller cells produce IL1 activity and have a dual role in regulation of autoimmune T-lymphocytes: antigen presentation manifested after removal of suppressive activity.  J. Immunol.  140:2193-2196, 1988. (Medline)

Helbig, H., R.C. Gurley, A.G. Palestine, R.B. Nussenblatt and  R.R. Caspi. Dual role of ciliary body cells in regulation of T-lymphocyte proliferation.  Eur. J. Immunol. 20:2457-2463, 1990. (Medline)

Hara, Y., R.R. Caspi, B. Wiggert, C.C. Chan, G.A. Wilbanks and J.W. Streilein. Suppression of experimental autoimmune uveitis in mice by induction of anterior chamber associated immune deviation with interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein. J. Immunol. 148:1685-1692, 1992.(Medline)

Caspi, R.R., C.-C. Chan, B.G. Grubbs G.J. Chader and B. Wiggert.  Genetic control of susceptibility to experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis in the mouse model:  Concomitant regulation by MHC and non-MHC genes. J. Immunol. 148:2384-2389, 1992. (Medline)

Caspi, R.R., C. Parsa, C.C. Chan, B.G. Grubbs, S. Bahmanyar, H. Heremans, A. Billiau and B. Wiggert.  Endogenous systemic Interferon-gamma has a protective role against ocular autoimmunity in mice. J. Immunol. 152:890-899, 1994. (Medline)

Rizzo, L.V., N.E. Miller-Rivero,  C.C. Chan, B. Wiggert, R.B. Nussenblatt  and R.R. Caspi. Interleukin-2 treatment potentiates induction of oral tolerance. J. Clin. Invest. 94:1668-1672, 1994. (Medline)

Silver, P.B., L.V. Rizzo, C.C. Chan, L.A. Donoso, B. Wiggert, and R.R. Caspi. Identification of a major pathogenic epitope in the IRBP molecule recognized by mice of the H-2r  haplotype. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci/  36:946-954, 1995. (Medline)

Caspi,  R.R., P.B. Silver, C-C. Chan, B. Sun, R.K. Agarwal, J. Wells, S. Oddo, Y. Fujino, F. Najafian and R.L. Wilder. Genetic susceptibility to experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) in the rat is associated with an elevated Th1 response. J. Immunol. 157:2668-2675, 1996. (Medline)

Nussenblatt, R.B., I. Gery, R. Ferris, J. Shiloach,  N. Ramaley, C. Perry, R.R. Caspi, C.S. Foster, H. L. Weiner and S. M. Whitcup. Treatment of Uveitis by Oral Administration of Retinal Antigens: Results of a Phase I/II Randomized Masked Trial  Am. J. Ophthalmol. 123:583-592, 1997. (Medline)

Jones, L.S., L.V. Rizzo, R. K. Agarwal, T.K. Tarrant, C.C. Chan, B. Wiggerrt and R.R. Caspi. Interferon gamma-deficient mice develop experimental autoimmune uveitis in the context of a deviant effector response. J. Immunol. 158:5997-6005, 1997. (Medline)

Sun, B., L.V. Rizzo, S.H Sun C.C. Chan, B. Wiggert, R.L. Wilder and R.R. Caspi. Genetic susceptibility to EAU involves more than a predisposition to generate a Th1 or a Th2-type response J. Immunol. 159:1004-1011, 1997. (Medline)

Prendergast, R.A., C.E. Iliff, N.M. Coskuncan, R.R. Caspi, G. Sartani, T.K. Tarrant, G.A. Lutty, D.S. McLeod. T cell traffic and the inflammatory response in experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis. Invest. Opthalmol. Vis. Sci. 39:754-762, 1998. (Medline)

Rizzo, L.V., L.R. Stiff, B. Wiggert and R.R. Caspi. The role of IL-10 in natural and therapeutic regulation of EAU. International Immunology 10:807-814, 1998. (Medline)

Tarrant, T.K., P.B. Silver, C.C. Chan and R.R. Caspi. Endogenous IL-12 is required for induction and expression of experimental autoimmune uveitis. J. Immunol. 161:122-127, 1998. (Medline)

Tarrant, T. K., P. B. Silver, J. L. Wahlsten, L. V. Rizzo, C. C. Chan, B. Wiggert, and R. R. Caspi. Interleukin 12 protects from a T helper type 1-mediated autoimmune disease, experimental autoimmune uveitis, through a mechanism involving interferon gamma, nitric oxide, and apoptosis. J Exp Med 189:219-230 (1999). (Medline)

Agarwal, R. K., C. C. Chan, B. Wiggert, and R. R. Caspi. Pregnancy ameliorates induction and expression of experimental autoimmune uveitis. J Immunol 162:2648-2654 (1999). (Medline)

Rizzo, L. V., R. A. Morawetz, N. E. Miller-Rivero, R. Choi, B. Wiggert, C. C. Chan, H. C. Morse, 3rd, R. B. Nussenblatt, and R. R. Caspi. IL-4 and IL-10 are both required for the induction of oral tolerance. J Immunol 162:2613-2622 (1999). (Medline)

Shu-Hui Sun, Phyllis B. Silver, Ying Du, Rachel R. Caspi, Ronald L. Wilder, and Elaine F. Remmers. Genetic analysis of experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) in rats. Int. Immunol. 11:529-534 (1999). (Medline)

Silver, P.B. , C.C. Chan, B.Wiggert and R.R. Caspi. The requirement for pertussis toxin for induction of EAU is strain-dependent: B10.RIII mice develop EAU without pertussis treatment. Invest. Opthalmol. Vis. Sci. 40:2898-2905 (1999). (Medline)

Avichezer, D., P.B. Silver, C.C Chan, B. Wiggert and R.R. Caspi. Identification of a new epitope of human IRBP that induces autoimmune uveoretinitis in H-2b haplotype mice. Invest. Opthalmol. Vis. Sci. 41:127-131 (2000). (Medline)

Xu, H., E.F. Wawrousek, T.M. Redmond, J.M. Nickerson, B. Wiggert, C.C. Chan, and R.R. Caspi. Transgenic expression of an immunologically privileged retinal antigen extraocularly reduces susceptibility to experimental autoimmune uveitis. Eur. J. Immunol. 30:272-278 (2000) (Medline)

Agarwal, R.K., R.K., Y. Kang, E. Zambidis, D.W. Scott, C.C. Chan and R.R. Caspi. Retroviral Gene transfer of an immunoglobulin-antigen fusion construct protects from Experimental autoimmune uveitis. J. Clin. Invest. 106:245-252, 2000. (Medline)

Wahlsten, J.L., H.L. Gitchell, C.C. Chan, B. Wiggert and R. Caspi. Fas and FasL expressed on cells of the immune system, not on the target tissue, control induction of experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis. J. Immunol. 165:5480-5486, 2000. (Medline)

Silver, P.B., K.S. Hathcock, C.C. Chan, B. Wiggert, and R.R. Caspi .Costimulatory blockade inhibits a primary episode of experimentalautoimmune uveoretinitis, but does not lead to long term tolerance. J. Immunol. 165:5401-5407, 2000. (Medline)

Su SB, Silver PB, Zhang MF, Chan CC, Caspi RR. Pertussis Toxin inhibits induction of tissue specific autoimmune disease by disrupting G-protein coupled signals. J. Immunol. 167:250-256, 2001. (Medline)

Wang, Peng , SH Sun, PB Silver, CC Chan, B Wiggert . Methimazole protects from experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) by inhibiting antigen presenting cell function and reducing antigen priming. J. Leukocyte Biol. 73:57-64, 2003. (Medline)

Pennesi, G., M.J. Mattapallil, S.H. Sun, D. Avichezer, P.B. Silver, Z. Karabekian, C.S. David, P.A. Hargrave, J.H. McDowell, W.C. Smith, B. Wiggert, L.A. Donoso, C.C. Chan and R.R. Caspi. A humanized model of experimental autoimmune uveitis in HLA class II-transgenic mice. J. Clin Invest. 111:1171-1180, 2003. (Medline)

Su, S-B., P.B. Silver, P. Wang, C.C. Chan and R.R. Caspi. Dissociating the Enhancing and Inhibitory Effects of Pertussis Toxin on Autoimmune Disease. J. Immunol 171:2314, 2003. (Medline)

Hui Xu, Phyllis B. Silver, Teresa K. Tarrant, Chi-Chao Chan and Rachel R. Caspi. TGF-b Inhibits Activation and Uveitogenicity of Primary but not of Fully Polarized Retinal Antigen-Specific Memory/Effector T cells. Invest. Opthalmol. Vis. Sci. 44:4805-4812, 2003. (Medline)

Avichezer, D., R.S. Grajewski, C.-C. Chan, M.J. Mattapallil, P.B. Silver, J.A. Raber, G.I. Liou, B. Wiggert, G.M. Lewis, L.A. Donoso, and R.R. Caspi. An Immunologically Privileged Retinal Antigen Elicits Tolerance: Major Role for Central Selection Mechanisms J. Exp. Med., 198:1665-1676, 2003. (Medline)

Su, S-B., P.B. Silver, P. Wang, C.C. Chan and R.R. Caspi. Cholera toxin prevents Th1-mediated autoimmune disease by enhancing Th2 polarization. J. Immunol., 173: 755–761, 2004 (Medline)

Bagenstose, LM, RK Agarwal, PB Silver, M Harlan, SC. Hoffmann, RL. Kampen, CC Chan and RR. Caspi. Disruption of CD40/CD40L interactions in a retinal autoimmunity model results in protection without tolerance. J. Immunol, 175: 124–130, 2005. (Medline)

Karabekian, Z., Simon D. Lytton, Phyllis B. Silver, Y. Sergeev, J.P. Schneck and R.R. Caspi. Antigen/MHC class II/Ig dimers for study of uveitogenic T cells: IRBP p161-180 presented by both IA and IE molecules. Invest. Opthalmol. Vis. Sci.46:3769-3776, 2005. (Medline)

Su, S-B, PB. Silver, R.S. Grajewski, R.K. Agarwal, J. Tang, C.C. Chan and R.R. Caspi.  Essential Role of the Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 (MyD88) Pathway,  but Nonessential Roles of Toll Receptors 2, 4 and 9, in the Adjuvant Effect Promoting Th1 Mediated-Autoimmunity. J. Immunol. 175:6303-6310. (Medline)

Grajewski, RS, PB Silver, RK Agarwal, SB Su, CC Chan, GI. Liou and RR. Caspi. Endogenous IRBP can be dispensable for generation of natural CD4+CD25+ T-regs that protect from IRBP-induced retinal autoimmunity. J. Exp. Med.203:851-856, 2006. (Medline)

Jason DeVoss, Yaefi Hou, Lawrence Fong, Rachel Caspi, Gregory I Liou, John Rinn, Howard Chang, Mark S Anderson. Spontaneous autoimmunity prevented by thumic expression of a single self antigen. J. Exp. Med. 2-3, 2727-2735, 2006. (Medline)

Jun Tang, Wei Zhu, Phyllis B Silver, Shao-Bo Su, Chi-Chao Chan, and Rachel R Caspi. A new model of retinal autoimmunity: autoimmune uveitis elicited with antigen-pulsed dendritic cells is driven by unique effector mechanisms. J. Immunol. 2007 J. Immunol. 178:5578-5587, 2007 (Medline)

Phyllis B. Silver, Rajeev K. Agarwal, Shao-Bo Su, Rafael S. Grajewski, Chi-Chao Chan, John M. Nickerson and Rachel R. Caspi. Hydrodynamic Vaccination with DNA encoding an immunologically privileged retinal antigen protects from anti-retinal autoimmunity through induction of regulatory T cells. J. Immunol.,179:5146-58, 2007 (Medline)

Mattapallil, MJ, A Augello, C Cheadle, D Teichberg, KG Becker, JJ Mattapallil, CC Chan, G Pennesi and RR Caspi Differentially expressed genes in MHC-compatible rat strains that are susceptible or resistant to ocular autoimmunity. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 49:1957-70, 2008. (Medline)

Cortes LM, Mattapallil MJ, Silver PB, Donoso LA, Liou GI, Zhu W, Chan CC, Caspi RR. Repertoire analysis and new pathogenic epitopes of IRBP in C57BL/6 (H-2b) and B10.RIII (H-2r) mice Invest. Opthalmol. Vis. Sci., 49:1946-56, 2008. (Medline)

Dror Luger, Phyllis B. Silver, Jun Tang, Daniel Cua, Zoe Chen, Yoichiro Iwakura , Edward P. Bowman, Nicole M. Sgambellone, Chi-Chao Chan and Rachel R. Caspi. Either a Th17 or a Th1 effector response can drive autoimmunity: conditions of disease induction affect dominant effector category. J. Exp. Med. 205:799-810, 2008. (Medline)

Agarwal RK, Horai R, Viley AM, Silver PB, Grajewski RS, Su SB, Yazdani A, Wei Zhu, Kronenberg M, Murray PJ, Rutschman RL, Chan CC and Caspi RR. Abrogation of anti-retinal autoimmunity in IL-10 transgenic mice due to reduced T cell priming and inhibition of effector mechanisms. J. Immunol. 80:5423-9, 2008. (Medline)

Rachitskaya AV*, Hansen AM*, Horai R, Li Z, Luger D, Villasmil R, Nussenblatt RB and Caspi RR. NKT cells constitutively express IL-23 receptor and RORgt, and rapidly produce IL-17 upon receptor ligation in an IL-6-independent fashion. J. Immunol Cutting Edge, 180:5167-71, 2008. (Medline)

Mattapallil MJ, Sahin A, Silver PB, Sun SH, Chan CC, Hansen CT, Remmers EF, Hejtmancik JF and Caspi RR. Common genetic determinants of uveitis shared with other autoimmune disorder J. Immunol. 180:6751-9, 2008. (Medline)

Cortes LM, Avichezer D, Silver PB, Luger D, Mattapallil MJ, Chan CC and Caspi RR. Inhibitory Peptide Analogs Derived from a Major Uveitogenic Epitope Protect from Anti-Retinal Autoimmunity by Inducing Type 2 and Regulatory T Cells. J. Leukoc. Biol. 2008 May 21. [Epub ahead of print]. (Medline)

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