The purpose of this study was to determine whether the local administration of monoclonal antibodies could reverse rabbit corneal graft rejection. To provide a rational basis for the choice of monoclonal antibodies as potential immunosuppressive agents, the phenotypes of cells infiltrating rejecting rabbit corneal allografts were examined by immunohistochemistry. About half the leukocytes accumulating in these grafts bore an immunodominant T cell marker, over two-thirds carried MHC class II antigens, and about one-fifth carried myeloid cell markers. A kinetic study of the cell population appearing in rabbit aqueous during corneal graft rejection was performed by examination of repetitive anterior chamber taps taken over a ten-day period; again, the major components were T cells, MHC class II antigen-positive cells and myeloid cells. Monoclonal antibodies LI 1/135 (directed against a peripheral T cell determinant), 2C4 (directed against a monomorphic MHC class II antigen), and LION 2 (directed against a myeloc d antigen) were chosen for intracameral injection into rabbits with rejecting corneal grafts. Each animal received a total of 50-100 ng of antibody in two injections at 3-4-day intervals. LI 1/135 and LION 2 reversed rejection in 5/9 and 8/12 animals, respectively, in the absence of any other immunosuppression; 2C4 was without effect. We suggest that monoclonal antibody therapy in corneal transplantation deserves further attention.
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