Background: Unlike the immune privilege enjoyed by low-risk corneal grafts, high-risk corneal grafts experience rejection rates comparable to liver and kidney transplants. Systemic immunosuppression reduces the risk of rejection in high-risk corneal grafts.
Methods: Systemic tacrolimus, a specific T cell inhibitor, was used at a mean daily dose of 2.5 mg to immunosuppress 43 patients undergoing high-risk corneal transplantation. Immunosuppression was continued for a period of 18–24 months after the high-risk corneal graft.
Results: During a mean follow-up period of 33.7 months, clarity of the graft was maintained in 65% of patients. Eight patients experienced rejection episodes while on tacrolimus, and this led to graft failure in five patients.
Conclusion: Tacrolimus is relatively safe and effective in reducing rejection and prolonging graft survival in patients with high-risk keratoplasty compared with other series where similar immunosuppression was not used.
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Published Online First 6 September 2006
Funding: This study was supported by Astellas Pharma, formerly known as Fujisawa Pharmaceuticals, in the form of a stipend paid to AJ during her time as clinical research fellow at the Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham.
Competing interests: None declared.
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