Prolongation of sheep corneal allograft survival by transfer of the gene encoding ovine IL-12-p40 but not IL-4 to donor corneal endothelium

Sonja Klebe, Douglas J. Coster, Pamela J. Sykes, Sarah Swinburne, Peter Hallsworth, Jean Pierre Y. Scheerlinck, Ravi Krishnan, Keryn A. Williams

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Immunological rejection is the major cause of human corneal allograft failure. We hypothesized that local production of IL-4 or the p40 subunit of IL-12 (p40 IL-12) by the grafted cornea might prolong allograft survival. Replication-deficient adenoviral vectors encoding ovine IL-4 or p40 IL-12 and GFP were generated and used to infect ovine corneas ex vivo. mRNA for each cytokine was detected in infected corneas, and the presence of secreted protein in corneal supernatants was confirmed by bioassay (for IL-4) or immunoprecipitation (for p40 IL-12). Sheep received uninfected or gene-modified orthotopic corneal allografts. Postoperatively, untreated corneas (n = 13) and corneas expressing GFP (n = 6) were rejected at a median of 21 and 20 days, respectively. Corneas expressing IL-4 (n = 6) underwent rejection at 18.5 days (p > 0.05 compared with controls) and histology demonstrated the presence of eosinophils. In contrast, corneas expressing p40 IL-12 (n = 9) showed prolonged allograft survival (median day to rejection = 45 days, p = 0.003). Local intraocular production of p40 IL-12 thus prolonged corneal graft survival significantly, but local production of the prototypic immunomodulatory cytokine IL-4 induced eosinophilia, inflammation, and rejection. These findings have important implications for the development of novel strategies to improve human corneal graft survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2219-2226
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 15 Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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