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Tristan Reuer, Ann-Charlott Schneider, Bertan Cakir, Anima D. Bühler, Johanna M. Walz, Thabo Lapp, Clemens Lange, Hansjürgen Agostini, Günther Schlunck, Claus Cursiefen, Thomas Reinhard, Felix Bock, Andreas Stahl; Semaphorin 3F Modulates Corneal Lymphangiogenesis and Promotes Corneal Graft Survival. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(12):5277-5284. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-24287.
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Corneal vascularization significantly increases the risk for graft rejection after keratoplasty. Semaphorin 3F (Sema3F) is a known modulator of physiologic avascularity in the outer retina. The aim of this study was to investigate whether Sema3F is involved in maintaining corneal avascularity and can reduce the risk for corneal graft rejection.
Corneal Sema3F expression was investigated using immunohistochemistry and qPCR in human and murine tissue. Pathologic invasion of blood and lymph vessels into corneal tissue was analyzed in the murine corneal suture and high-risk keratoplasty model. The anti-lymphangiogenic effects of Sema3F were further investigated using an in vitro spheroidal sprouting model with supernatant from isolated primary human corneal epithelial cells (hCECs).
Sema3F is constitutively expressed in human and murine corneal epithelium. In the corneal suture model, lymphangiogenesis was significantly suppressed by topical Sema3F treatment (P = 0.0003). In the murine high-risk keratoplasty model, pretreatment by topical Sema3F in the inflammation phase significantly promoted subsequent graft survival (P = 0.0006). In this model, both lymph- and blood angiogenesis were reduced (P < 0.05). In vitro, hCEC supernatant had a direct anti-lymphangiogenic effect on human lymphatic endothelial cells (P < 0.01). This effect was completely abolished by addition of anti-Sema3F antibodies.
Sema3F is a novel mediator of corneal avascularity with potent anti-lymphangiogenic properties. Topical treatment with Sema3F eye drops may help to limit corneal vascularization and improve outcomes in high-risk keratoplasty patients.
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