Corneal transplantation serves as a reproducible and simple surgical model to study mechanisms regulating immunity and angiogenesis. The simplicity of the model allows for systematic analysis of different mechanisms involved in immune and angiogenic privilege and their failures. This protocol describes how to induce neovessels and inflammation in an actively regulated avascular and immune-privileged site. This involves placing intra-stromal corneal sutures for two weeks, disrupting the privileges, and performing corneal transplantation subsequently. Privileged and non-privileged recipient responses to donor cornea can be compared to identify key immunological mechanisms that underlie angiogenesis and graft rejection. This protocol can also be adapted to the growing repertoire of genetic models available in the mouse, and is a valuable tool to elucidate molecular mechanisms mediating acceptance or failure of corneal graft. The model could be used to assess the potential of therapeutic molecules to enhance graft survival in vivo.
Keywords: alloimmunity; angiogenesis; immune privilege; transplantation.