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Development of organised conjunctival leucocyte aggregates after corneal transplantation in rats
  1. S Banerjee1,
  2. F C Figueiredo2,
  3. D L Easty1,
  4. A D Dick1,
  5. S M Nicholls1
  1. 1Division of Ophthalmology, School of Medical Sciences, University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Sanjiv Banerjee Bristol Eye Hospital, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol BS1 2LX, UK;


Aim: To investigate the development of lymphoid aggregates in the conjunctiva after corneal transplantation in rats.

Methods: LEW or PVG strain corneas were transplanted orthotopically to PVG rats. Cornea and conjunctiva were examined clinically for up to 42 days. Eyes were removed with attached conjunctiva on days 10 and 15 after transplantation (before and during rejection), together with normal eyes, fixed, paraffin embedded, and examined immunohistochemically.

Results: Clinically, the temporal half of the upper palpebral conjunctiva of recipients of 10/19 allografts and 1/10 isografts developed pronounced swelling, correlating with inflammation and rejection. Histologically, the swelling comprised leucocytic aggregates with an altered overlying epithelium. Aggregates contained granulocytes, macrophages, and cells expressing major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, CD4, and CD8, all more numerous in allograft associated conjunctiva. Class II+ cells were more abundant at the surface, whereas macrophages and T cells were more numerous in the deeper stroma. There were few B cells. There was greater CD54 expression by vascular endothelium in allograft associated aggregates. Cells expressing TNFα and IFNγ but not IL1β were present in stromal and superficial areas.

Conclusions: Corneal transplantation in rats induces the development of organised conjunctival leucocytic aggregates in a fixed location that are significantly more pronounced in recipients of allografts compared with isografts and show characteristics of a Th1 type immune response. These aggregates have characteristics of conjunctiva associated lymphoid tissue and may be sites of presentation of graft antigens and lymphocyte proliferation at the ocular surface.

  • conjunctiva
  • corneal transplantation
  • immunocytochemistry
  • immunopathology
  • lymphoid tissue
  • rat

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