PURPOSE Pinealitis accompanying uveitis is well established in laboratory models of experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis. In naturally occurring uveitis, pinealitis has been demonstrated in the pineal gland from a mare with active uveitis and is suspected in some human uveitides. We have evaluated pineal glands from horses with various stages of uveitis for signs of immunopathology accompanying spontaneous uveitis.
METHODS Pineal glands from 10 horses with uveitis and from 13 horses without uveitis were evaluated for histochemical (H&E, collagen) and immunohistochemical (MHC class II antigen expression, infiltration of T and B lymphocytes, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and vimentin upregulation) evidence of inflammation.
RESULTS Septal areas of pineal glands from horses with uveitis had clusters of MHC class II antigen-expressing cells, T lymphocytes, and enhanced collagen deposition. These changes were not as readily observed in pineal glands from horses without uveitis. B lymphocytes were detected only in the pineal gland from the one mare with active uveitis in which T and B lymphocytes were organized into follicles. No differences in GFAP or vimentin immunoreactivity were noted in pineal glands from horses with or without uveitis.
CONCLUSIONS These pineal gland changes suggest that the pinealitis associated with equine uveitis is transient just as the uveitis of these horses is recurrent. Study of pineal glands from horses with clinically documented uveitis allows demonstration of subtle pineal changes associated with natural uveitis. Similar changes would be difficult to document in human patient populations.