The impact of corneal allograft rejection on the long-term outcome of corneal transplantation

Douglas J. Coster, Keryn A. Williams

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180 Citations (Scopus)


• PURPOSE: To examine the influence of corneal allograft rejection on the survival of penetrating corneal transplantation, to review the status of conventional therapies to improve graft survival, and to consider prospects for alternative approaches to reduce the impact of rejection. • DESIGN: Perspective, including prospective, observational cohort study. • METHODS: An examination of the literature on human corneal graft rejection and data from the Australian Corneal Graft Registry, reviewed in the context of clinical experience. • RESULTS: Corneal graft outcome is not improving with era. The sequelae of inflammation, whether occurring before corneal transplantation or subsequently, exert a profound influence by predisposing the graft to rejection. Of the developments that have been instrumental in reducing rejection in vascularized organ transplantation, living-related donation is not an option for corneal transplantation. However, HLA matching may be beneficial and requires reassessment. The evidence base to support the use of systemic immunosuppressive agents in corneal transplantation is thin, and topical glucocorticosteroids remain the drugs of choice to prevent or reverse rejection episodes. Experimental approaches to local allospecific immunosuppression, including the use of antibody-based reagents and gene therapy, are being developed but may be difficult to translate from the laboratory bench to the clinic. • CONCLUSIONS: Corneal allograft rejection remains a major cause of graft failure. High-level evidence to vindicate the use of a particular approach or treatment to prevent or treat corneal graft rejection is lacking. In the absence of extensive data from randomized, controlled clinical trials, corneal graft registers and extrapolation from experimental models provide some clinically useful information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1122
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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