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Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a multifunctional cytokine, is secreted by various cells and participates in inflammatory reactions, including innate and adaptive immunity. There are some evidences that MIF is involved in many vitreoretinal diseases. For example, MIF can exacerbate many types of uveitis; measurements of MIF levels can be used to monitor the effectiveness of uveitis treatment. MIF also alleviates trauma-induced and glaucoma-induced optic nerve damage. Furthermore, MIF is critical for retinal/choroidal neovascularization, especially complex neovascularization. MIF exacerbates retinal degeneration; thus, anti-MIF therapy may help to mitigate retinal degeneration. MIF protects uveal melanoma from attacks by natural killer cells. The mechanism underlying the effects of MIF in these diseases has been demonstrated: it binds to cluster of differentiation 74, inhibits the c-Jun N-terminal kinase pathway, and triggers mitogen-activated protein kinases, extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2, and the phosphoinositide-3-kinase/Akt pathway. MIF also upregulates Toll-like receptor 4 and activates the nuclear factor kappa-B signaling pathway. This review focuses on the structure and function of MIF and its receptors, including the effects of MIF on uveal inflammation, retinal degeneration, optic neuropathy, retinal/choroidal neovascularization, and uveal melanoma.

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