Elevated expression in situ of selectin and immunoglobulin superfamily type adhesion molecules in retroocular connective tissues from patients with Graves' ophthalmopathy

A. E. Heufelder, R. S. Bahn

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81 Scopus citations


Activation of certain adhesion molecules within vascular endothelium and the surrounding extravascular space is a critical event in the recruitment and targeting of an inflammatory response or autoimmune attack to a particular tissue site. We have recently demonstrated that the adhesion of lymphocytes to cultured retroocular fibroblasts obtained from patients with Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO) is mediated predominantly by the interaction of lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1), expressed on lymphocytes, with intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), expressed by these cells following exposure to interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), IL-1α or purified thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins. We now report the expression and localization in situ of several adhesion molecules, ICAM-1, endothelial leucocyte adhesion molecule-1 (ELAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and LFA-3 in retroocular tissues derived from patients with severe GO (n = 4) and normal individuals (n = 3). Serial cryostat sections of tissue specimens were processed for immunoperoxidase staining using various MoAbs against ICAM-1, ELAM-1, VCAM-1 and LFA-3. In addition, consecutive sections were stained with MoAbs against LFA-1, CD45RO (UCHL-1)DR-human leucocyte antigen (HLA-DR), CD11b/CD18 (Mac-1), and CD11c/CD18 (p150,95). In GO-retroocular tissues, strong immunoreactivity for ICAM-1 and LFA-3 was detected in blood vessels (>90%), in perimysial fibroblasts surrounding extraocular muscle fibres, and in connective tissue distinct from extraocular muscle. No ICAM-1 or LFA-3 immunoreactivity was present in extraocular muscle cells themselves. ICAM-1 and LFA-3 immunoreactivity in normal tissues was minimal or absent both in connective and muscle tissues. Vascular endothelium was strongly positive for ELAM-1 and VCAM-1 in GO-retroocular tissues, while VCAM-1 immunoreactivity was minimal (<5% of blood vessels) and ELAM-1 immunoreactivity was generally absent in normal retroocular tissue. LFA-1-expressing, activated mononuclear cells and memory T lymphocytes (CD3+/CD45RO+) were only detected in GO-retrocular tissues, and were mainly localized around blood vessels and in areas of ICAM-1-expressing connective and perimysial tissue. HLA-DR expression was restricted to GO-tissue specimens, with strong immunoreactivity detected in blood vessels, macrophages and connective tissue and perimysial fibroblasts. No HLA-DR was detectable in extraocular muscle cells. In conclusion, infiltration of the orbit in GO by mononuclear cells, and their targeting within the orbit, may depend upon the coordinate expression of certain adhesion and MHC molecules. Activation of appropriate adhesion molecules in mononuclear cells, endothelial cells and fibroblasts in response to various cytokines and inflammatory mediators may be involved in the evolution and perpetuance of GO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-389
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993


  • Graves' ophthalmopathy
  • HLA-DR
  • adhesion molecules
  • connective tissue
  • fibroblasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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