Aim: To evaluate the effect of sorafenib in murine high risk keratoplasty model.
Methods: Graft survival, corneal neovascularization, and corneal lymphangiogenesis were compared among the sorafenib, dexamethasone, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), and phosphate buffered saline (PBS) groups following subconjunctival injection in mice that underwent high risk penetrating keratoplasty (HRPK). Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to quantify the expression of inflammatory cytokines and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, VEGF-C, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-2, VEGFR-3.
Results: The two-month graft survival rate for HRPK was 42.86% in sorafenib group, 37.50% in dexamethasone group, 0 in DMSO group, and 0 in PBS group. Sorafenib significantly increased graft survival compared to the DMSO and PBS group (P<0.05). The sorafenib didn't show significant effect in decreasing neovascularization compared with dexamethsone, DMSO, and PBS group. The sorafenib showed less total lymphangiogenesis than the dexamethasone, DMSO, and PBS group (P=0.011, P<0.001, P<0.001, respectively). The sorafenib group showed reduced expression of VEGF-C, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 compared with DMSO group and PBS group (all P<0.05). The sorafenib group didn't show difference in the expression of VEGF-A compared with DMSO, neither with PBS. The sorafenib group showed reduced expression of VEGFR-3 compared with dexamethasone (P=0.051).
Conclusion: The subconjunctivally administered sorafenib shows significant anti-lymphangiogenic effect, resulting in increased transplant survival in a murine high risk keratoplasty model. We suggest that a close linkage between decreased VEGF-C/VEGFR-2 and -3 signaling and increased corneal graft survival by sorafenib seems to exist.
Keywords: dexamethasone; graft survival; lymphangiogenesis; neovascularization; sorafenib.