MAY 01, 2017 6:53 PM PDT

Cytokine "Cocktail" Lowers Risk of Corneal Graft Rejection

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Corneal transplants can be especially risky for some patients, when steroids intended to suppress the immune system fail to prevent graft rejection. A new approach alters the graft instead of the immune system to improve the chance of a successful procedure, and preclinical results show promise.

Source: Hoopes Vision

Like a window that needs to let light into a room so people can see, the cornea helps focus light into the eye to facilitate the sensation of sight. When the cornea is damaged due to scarring or disease, a corneal transplant is necessary. The procedure is vastly common, with more than 150,000 corneal transplants completed annually across the globe. Conditions that can cause the type of corneal damage leading up to a transplant procedure include infections like herpes keratitis, trauma or injury, and hereditary diseases like Fuchs’ dystrophy.

Steroid treatments inhibit the immune system’s natural response to foreign corneas, but the too-common failure of steroids to prevent graft rejection led experts to estimate that nearly one-third of all corneal transplants are considered to be at high risk of rejection. From the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, a new approach involves applying a cocktail of cytokines, TGF-beta and IL-10, directly to donor corneal tissue to overcome the flaws encountered with only using steroid treatments.

Cytokines are chemical messenger cells that facilitate communication in a variety of ways in the immune system. For the purpose of the new approach for improving corneal transplants, this particular mix of cytokines targets antigen-presenting immune cells in donor tissues to make the foreign tissue tolerable by the host immune system after the procedure.

"We exposed donor tissue to a particular cocktail of immunoregulatory cytokines, and we've determined what doses, concentrations and exposure we need for these cytokines to generate tolerance inducing antigen-presenting cells in the cornea,” explained senior author Reza Dana, MD, MPH.

Dana’s new technique has already had some success in preclinical model results: 68.7 percent of grafts with new pretreatment cocktail survived after eight weeks as opposed to zero percent of the control grafts.

"By exposing the transplant tissue to these cytokines, we avoid having to expose the transplant recipients themselves to any immunosuppressive," Dana explained. "When we grafted the tissue that has been treated that way, we developed active tolerance, which leads to long-term acceptance of the corneal transplant and suppresses all the destructive sides of immunity."

Dana and his team are especially exciting about the potentially quick application of the new cytokine cocktail to clinical models for study. Failure rates for high-risk corneal transplants are usually 50 percent or greater, and lowering the rate of transplant failure could be lifechanging for people with severe corneal diseases causing pain and blindness.

The present study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Sources: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, International Anesthesiology Clinics, National Eye Institute

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
APR 26, 2020
Microbiology
Researchers Design A Polio Vaccine That Won't Cause Polio
APR 26, 2020
Researchers Design A Polio Vaccine That Won't Cause Polio
Sustained, intense efforts to vaccinate were getting the world very close to eradicating polio, but the vaccine itself o ...
MAY 23, 2020
Microbiology
The FDA Yanks Some COVID-19 Antibody Tests From the Market
MAY 23, 2020
The FDA Yanks Some COVID-19 Antibody Tests From the Market
The massive demand for diagnostic testing led the FDA to open a short window for many testing products to go to market w ...
JUL 08, 2020
Health & Medicine
The Myths About CBD and Coronavirus
JUL 08, 2020
The Myths About CBD and Coronavirus
Research collected over the last 20 years suggests that cannabidiol – the primary cannabinoid in CBD oil – h ...
JUL 23, 2020
Immunology
Cancer Therapy Reduces Lung Scarring
JUL 23, 2020
Cancer Therapy Reduces Lung Scarring
Scientists at the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine have discovered a striking parallel ...
JUL 30, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
How Are DNA Testing Companies Helping the Fight Against COVID?
JUL 30, 2020
How Are DNA Testing Companies Helping the Fight Against COVID?
One of the most puzzling characteristics of coronavirus is how some people develop severe symptoms and die from the dise ...
AUG 05, 2020
Coronavirus
Age-old Immune Components Affecting COVID-19 Severity
AUG 05, 2020
Age-old Immune Components Affecting COVID-19 Severity
One of the most unsettling aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is the wide range of severity those affected seem to expe ...
Loading Comments...