Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-positive dendritic cells in the rat iris: In situ development from MHC class II-negative precursors

Raymond J. Steptoe, Patrick G. Holt, Paul G. McMenamin

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Purpose. To examine the postnatal development of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-positive dendritic cells (DC) in the iris of the normal rat eye. Methods. Single- and double-color immunomorphologic studies were performed on whole mounts prepared from rat iris taken at selected postnatal ages (2 to 3 days to 78 weeks). Immunopositive cells were enumerated, using a quantitative light microscope, and MHC class II expression on individual cells was assessed by microdensitometric analysis. Results. Major histocompatibility class II- positive DCs in the iris developed in an age-dependent manner and reached adult-equivalent density and structure at approximately 10 weeks of age, considerably later than previously described in other DC populations in the rat. In contrast, the anti-rat DC monoclonal antibody OX62 revealed a population of cells present at adult-equivalent levels as early as 3 weeks after birth. Dual-color immunostaining and microdensitometric analysis demonstrated that during postnatal growth, development of the network of MHC class II-positive DCs was a consequence of the progressive increase in expression of MHC class II antigen by OX62-positive cells. Conclusions. During postnatal growth, the DC population of the iris develops initially as an OX62-positive-MHC class II-negative population, which then develops increasing MHC class II expression in situ and finally resembles classic DC populations in other tissue sites. Maturation of the iris DC population is temporally delayed compared with time to maturation in other tissue sites in the rat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2639-2648
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Dendritic cell
  • Eye development
  • Iris
  • Maturation
  • Ontogeny

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