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K. Mayer, T. Reinhard, A. Reis, T. Niehues, F. Claas, R. Sundmacher; Differential Contribution of Natural Killer Cells to Corneal Graft Rejection in Three Week Old versus Mature Rats . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(13):4654.
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Purpose: Aim of this study was to compare immunological graft rejection in adult and three week old immature recipients in the rat keratoplasty model. Methods: Fourty orthotopic penetrating keratoplasties were performed in four different donor/recipient combinations. Group 1: adult Fisher donors and adult Lewis recipients; group 2: adult Fisher donors and immature Lewis recipients; group 3: adult Lewis donors and recipients; group 4: adult Lewis donors and immature Lewis recipients. An immunohistological evaluation of the grafts was done on day fourteen. Results: Grafts in both allogeneic groups (group 1 and 2) showed infiltration with CD4+ cells, CD8+ cells, NK-cells, IL2-receptor+ cells, macrophages and ICAM1+ cells. The density of infiltrating CD4+, CD8+, IL2-receptor+ and ICAM1+ cells in the graft stroma, however, was statistically significantly lower in the immature group (group 2) than in the adult group (group 1). The density of CD161+ NK cells on the other hand was statistically significantly higher in the immature group than in the adult group. There were no or only few infiltrating inflammatory cells in grafts of both syngeneic groups (group 3 and 4). Conclusions: We established an animal model for keratoplasty in infants. It showed that the mechanism of graft rejection in very young recipients seems to be different from that in mature rats. In adult recipients, alloreactive T cells are the main mediators of rejection, whereas NK cells seem to play a more dominant role in immature recipients.
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