Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide Promotes Corneal Allograft Survival. Am J Pathol 2018;188(9):2016-2024.Abstract.
Corneal transplantation is the most prevalent form of tissue transplantation. The success of corneal transplantation mainly relies on the integrity of corneal endothelial cells (CEnCs), which maintain graft transparency. CEnC density decreases significantly after corneal transplantation even in the absence of graft rejection. To date, different strategies have been used to enhance CEnC survival. The neuropeptide vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) improves CEnC integrity during donor cornea tissue storage and protects CEnCs against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. However, little is known about the effect of exogenous administration of VIP on corneal transplant outcomes. We found that VIP significantly accelerates endothelial wound closure and suppresses interferon-γ- and tumor necrosis factor-α-induced CEnC apoptosis in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, we found that intracameral administration of VIP to mice undergoing syngeneic corneal transplantation with endothelial injury increases CEnC density and decreases graft opacity scores. Finally, using a mouse model of allogeneic corneal transplantation, we found for the first time that treatment with VIP significantly suppresses posttransplantation CEnC loss and improves corneal allograft survival.