Effect of alloantibodies on corneal allograft survival

Sushma Hegde, Jessamee K. Mellon, Sylvia L. Hargrave, Jerry Y. Niederkorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Purpose. The precise role of antibodies in corneal transplantation is ambiguous, with evidence to support as well as repudiate their involvement in graft rejection. Accordingly, this study was undertaken to investigate the direct contribution of donor-specific antibodies to corneal graft rejection. Methods. Serum samples from CB6F1 rejecters of orthotopically grafted C3H/Hej corneas were tested by ELISA for elevated levels of donor-specific alloantibody. Orthotopic corneal allograft rejection was also examined in B-cell-deficient mice. In a prospective study, naïve BALB/c T-cell-deficient nude mice and complement-depleted nude mice were passively infused with immune donor-specific serum and grafted with fully allogeneic C57BL/6J corneas. The incidence and speed of graft rejection were observed in each case. The susceptibility of corneal cells to antibody-mediated lysis was tested in vitro. Results. Seventy percent of the CB6F1 hosts that rejected the C3H/Hej corneal allografts possessed significantly elevated levels of alloantibody in serum. Although BALB/c corneal allografts were rejected by B-cell-deficient mice at the same incidence as wild-type control mice, their mean survival time (MST) was significantly longer than that of their wild-type counterparts. Serum of BALB/c mice immunized against C57BL/6J alloantigens produced complement-dependent cytolytic activity against C57BL/6J corneal cells in vitro. Passive transfer of this alloantiserum to T-cell-deficient BALB/c nude mice produced complement-dependent corneal lesions, resulting in significantly increased opacity of C57BL/6J corneal grafts, compared with the relatively clear grafts in control hosts. Conclusions. Alloantibody, although not necessary for corneal graft rejection, can produce extensive injury to corneal allografts in a complement-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1018
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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