Confocal microscopy of corneal graft rejection

R. A. Cohen, S. J. Chew, B. M. Gebhardt, R. W. Beuerman, H. E. Kaufman, S. C. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Corneal allografts were transplanted into inflamed and vascularized graft beds in rabbit eyes. The grafts were examined every 4 days by slit-lamp biomicroscopy and scanning confocal microscopy. Confocal images were recorded with a video camera and computer enhanced in real-time. Layers of the cornea were visualized in serial optical sections parallel to the epithelium. In the third postoperative week, signs of graft rejection were observed; slit-lamp examination revealed a circumferential line of epithelial rejection, along with cloudiness and edema. Vessels were observed growing into the graft. By confocal microscopy, infiltrating cells were seen in the graft stroma. Foci of cells were especially pronounced around the sutures. Scattered leukocyte infiltrates were prominent at capillary terminals. There was an accompanying reduction in the stromal keratocyte density in the region of the infiltrate. Additionally, various degrees of fibrosis were noted around each suture and at the host-graft interface. Confocal microscopy may provide a valuable clinical tool for determining the earliest indicators of an antigraft immune response, and as an aid in the differential diagnosis of other inflammatory conditions of the cornea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Confocal microscope
  • Corneal allograft
  • Immune response
  • Rabbit
  • Rejection
  • Vascularization


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