Purpose: Immunologic rejection remains a major cause of graft failure in high-risk corneal transplantation. This study was conducted to elucidate the efficacy and safety of systemic cyclosporine (CsA) in high-risk corneal transplantation. Design: Prospective, randomized, open-labeled clinical trial with a parallel-group study. Methods: Patients underwent high-risk corneal transplantation at the Department of Ophthalmology, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba, Japan. High-risk was defined as corneal neovascularization in more than 1 quadrant or a history of corneal grafting. Patients were assigned to either a systemic CsA group or a control group. Administration of CsA was continued for at least 6 months with blood CsA concentration 2 hours after administration of approximately 800 ng/mL, unless undesirable side effects developed. The main outcome measures were graft clarity, endothelial rejection, and local and systemic complications. Results: Forty patients were enrolled and 39 (18 men, 21 women; mean age, 67.4 ± 11.9 years) were analyzed. In the CsA group, CsA was discontinued within 6 months in 7 patients because of side effects. With a mean follow-up of 42.7 months, endothelial rejection developed in 6 and 2 eyes in the CsA and control groups, respectively. No differences were observed in the rates of graft clarity loss between the 2 groups (P = .16, Kaplan-Meier analysis). Conclusions: No positive effect of systemic CsA administration for suppressing rejection in high-risk corneal transplantation was observed. With a relatively high incidence of systemic side effects, the results suggest that this protocol should not be recommended for corneal transplant recipients, especially those of advanced age.
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