Allergies increase risk for corneal transplant rejection, UT Southwestern study shows

orneal transplantation, inducing allergic eye disease similar to that found in patients with ocular allergies. Another group of mice served as a control group, and corneal grafts were rejected in 50 percent of them; however, all of the grafts were rejected in mice with ocular ragweed allergy.

The allergic mice also had a rejection rate twice as fast as the control group. Researchers then performed additional experiments to determine if the increased graft rejection was simply due to the inflammation and irritation in the eye produced by the allergic response to ragweed pollen. In these experiments, ragweed pollen was applied to the right eye of the mice but the cornea was transplanted to the left eye, which was free of local allergic responses. All of the corneal transplants were still rejected.

"These findings demonstrate that the presence of eye allergies can have a profound effect on the immune system that reaches beyond the local site of an allergic response, in this case, the eye," Dr. Niederkorn said. "The results offer hope for improving the success of corneal transplants in patients with allergic eye diseases."

UT Southwestern ophthalmology researchers involved in the study included Dr. Clay Beauregard, postdoctoral research fellow and lead author; Elizabeth Mayhew, research scientist; and Christina Stevens, research assistant.


Contact: Scott Maier
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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