Characteristics of corneal xenograft rejection in a discordant species combination.
PURPOSE: To characterize the fate of Lewis rat corneas transplanted to Hartley guinea pigs. METHODS: Full-thickness Lewis rat corneal buttons were grafted orthotopically to Hartley guinea pigs (xenografts), ACI rats (allografts), or Lewis rats (isografts). Two panels of recipients were presensitized with xenogeneic skin grafts or allogeneic skin grafts. Serum samples were collected pre- and post-transplant and analyzed by flow cytometry and indirect immunofluorescence. RESULTS: Unlike vascularized xenografts that reject within 30 min, corneal xenografts had a mean survival time of 8 days. Presensitization with guinea pig skin grafts increased recipient IgM and IgG xenoantibody levels, as measured by flow cytometry on guinea pig hematopoietic cells, and significantly accelerated corneal xenograft rejection with a mean survival time of 5 days. Presensitization with allogeneic ACI skin grafts had no effect on xenoantibody levels or xenogeneic corneal graft survival. Guinea pig corneas stained by indirect immunofluorescence with normal rat serum exhibited low (1+) but significant binding of IgG and IgM, primarily on epithelium and stroma. Serum from Lewis rats that rejected a corneal xenograft had elevated IgG and IgM xenoantibodies that reacted strongly (4+) with guinea pig cornea and heart. CONCLUSIONS: In the discordant guinea pig-to-rat species combination, donor corneas express xenoantigens; rejection of corneal xenografts stimulates IgM and IgG xenoantibody production; sensitization to xenoantigens can accelerate corneal xenograft rejection; and discordant corneal xenografts, unlike vascularized organs, are not hyperacutely rejected.
Ross, JR; Howell, DN; Sanfilippo, FP
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