July 2019
Volume 60, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2019
Immune Mediated Early Corneal Nerve Damage Ocular Graft-Versus-Host Disease
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Victor L Perez
    Ophthalmology, Duke Eye Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • Liwen Lin
    Ophthalmology, Duke Eye Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • jose Echegaray
    Ophthalmology, Duke Eye Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • Derek J Royer
    Ophthalmology, Duke Eye Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Victor Perez, None; Liwen Lin, None; jose Echegaray, None; Derek Royer, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  NEI R01EY024484-05, 2018 Unrestricted Grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, 5P30EY005722-32, the Duke Eye Center P30 Core Grant from the NIH/NE
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2019, Vol.60, 4280. doi:
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Victor L Perez, Liwen Lin, jose Echegaray, Derek J Royer; Immune Mediated Early Corneal Nerve Damage Ocular Graft-Versus-Host Disease. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):4280.

      Download citation file:

      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Purpose : Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a frequent cause of morbidity following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. GVHD often manifests with ocular surface complications that includes keratopathy. Here, we hypothesized that donor CD4 T cell that are recruited to ocular surface drive corneal nerve damage leading to ocular GVHD (oGVHD) associated keratopathy.

Methods : An allogeneic GVHD model (minor histocompatibility antigen mismatch) was established by transferring bone marrow (BM) and purified splenic T cells from C57BL/6J (H2b) mice into lethally irradiated sex-matched C3-SW.H2b mice. Control groups were established using BM-only transfers. Systemic and ocular signs of GVHD were scored longitudinally, and corneal sensation tracked using Cochet-Bonnet esthesiometry. Whole corneal mounts were imaged using confocal imaging to study T cell and corneal nerves. Experimental groups included reconstituting recipients with BM and CD4 T cells only, CD8 T cells only, or CD4 CD8 T cells and CXCR3 -/- mice.

Results : Corneal sensation was normal in all animals at baseline and was not impacted by irradiation as esthesiometry scores remained normal throughout the study in all BM-only recipient controls. In contrast, progressive corneal sensation loss was noted starting day 10 post-HSCT (p<0.001) in only mice that received T cells that developed oGVHD and this correlated with the onset of corneal epithelial defects. Corneal sensation loss was dependent upon CD4 T cells (p<.001), as GVHD models established with BM and CD8 T cells did not exhibit sustained corneal sensation deficits. Importantly, confocal analysis of whole mount corneas confirmed the presence of donor CD4 T cells localizing to areas where corneal nerves were damaged. Importantly, mice that were transplanted with CXCR3-/- T cells maintained normal corneal sensation throughout the study and no gross corneal pathologies were observed.

Conclusions : Early corneal nerve damage occurs in oGVHD and this correlate with the onset of keratopathy. Significantly, donor effector CD4 T cells are responsible for the orchestration of corneal nerve destruction and signaling through CXCR3 is important in the recruitment of these population of effector T cells into the cornea. Effective local manipulation of adaptive immune responses in the cornea could be used to prevent or treat corneal nerve damage and keratopathy.

This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.


This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.