Experimental induction and three-dimensional two-photon imaging of conjunctiva-associated lymphoid tissue

Philipp Steven*, Jan Rupp, Gereon Hüttmann, Norbert Koop, Carmen Lensing, Horst Laqua, Andreas Gebert

*Corresponding author for this work
28 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose. Conjunctiva-associated lymphoid tissue (CALT) is assumed to be a key location for the generation of adaptive immune mechanisms of the ocular surface, but functional studies of CALT are still lacking. The purpose of this study was to establish an animal model that enables functional analysis of immune mechanisms going on within CALT. In addition, the use of two-photon microscopy, a new optical method, was evaluated for examining complex immunologic interactions of CALT by volume (three-dimensional [3-D]) and time-dependence (four-dimensional [4-D]) in vivo. Methods. The conjunctiva of female BALB/c mice was repeatedly challenged with topical Chlamydia trachomatis serovar C or a solution of ovalbumin and cholera toxin B. Two-photon microscopy was conducted on explanted, unfixed, and unstained eyes with adjacent nictitating membranes. Results. After three to five stimulations, CALT was detected exclusively in the nictitating membrane of 73% (C trachomatis) or 70% (ovalbumin/ cholera toxin) of the animals. CALT mainly consisted of CD45R/B110+ B cells and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Electron microscopy showed intraepithelial lymphocytes and follicles consisting of lymphocytes, dendritic cells, and macrophages. Two-photon microscopy based on tissue autofluorescence allowed all components of CALT to be detected three dimensionally. High-resolution images were generated in tissue depths of 65 μm below the mucosal surface. Conclusions. This study introduces a novel mouse model for functional investigations of CALT. Topical stimulation with C. trachomatis or ovalbumin/cholera toxin B reliably leads to CALT generation at the nictitating membrane. The use of two- photon microscopy enables groundbreaking 3-D and, in the future, intravital 4-D investigations of immunologic processes initiated in CALT.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1512-1517
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2008

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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