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PLoS One. 2018 May 7;13(5):e0196571. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196571. eCollection 2018.

Cyclosporine a drug-delivery system for high-risk penetrating keratoplasty: Stabilizing the intraocular immune microenvironment.

Zhang T1,2, Li Z1, Liu T1, Li S2, Gao H2, Wei C1, Shi W1,2.

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State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base, Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Shandong Eye Institute, Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences, Qingdao, China.
Shandong Eye Hospital, Shandong Eye Institute, Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences, Jinan, China.


Cyclosporine A (CsA) is an essential medication used to prevent corneal allograft rejection. Our preliminary studies revealed that CsA drug-delivery system (DDS) was more effective in preventing high-risk corneal allograft rejection than topical CsA application. However, the impacts of CsA DDS on the intraocular immune microenvironment were not fully elucidated. In the present study, we investigated the effect of CsA DDS on the cornea allograft, aqueous humor, and iris-ciliary body using a rabbit model of high-risk penetrating keratoplasty. New Zealand white rabbits were divided into four groups: a normal control group, an untreated group, a CsA eye drop group and a CsA DDS group. Graft survival was monitored for 12 weeks, and the therapeutic effects of CsA DDS were evaluated at 3 and 12 weeks after high-risk keratoplasty. In the CsA DDS group, the mean graft survival time was significantly prolonged when compared with the untreated and CsA eye drop groups. At all time-points, Langerhans cell density, inflammatory cell density, and central corneal thickness in the CsA DDS group were much lower(all p < 0.01) than the untreated and CsA eye drop groups, in which their parameters were significantly higher than the normal control group (all p < 0.01). Compared with the untreated and CsA eye drop groups, an implanted CsA DDS markedly decreased the CD11b+ and CD8+ T cell infiltration in the corneal grafts. CsA DDS treatment also greatly reduced the CD4+ T cell density and the expression of interferon-gamma, interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-6, CD80, and CD86 mRNA both in the corneal graft and iris-ciliary body (all p < 0.01). Moreover, CsA DDS significantly reduced the IL-2 level in aqueous humor (p < 0.01). Taken together, our results suggest that CsA DDS implanted into the anterior chamber create a relative immunosuppressive microenvironment in the corneal graft, iris-ciliary body, and aqueous humor. Stabilizing the intraocular immune microenvironment could partially elucidate the mechanism of CsA DDS in suppressing corneal graft rejection.

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