Purpose: To identify factors related to graft rejection following Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) in the Cornea Preservation Time Study (CPTS).
Design: Cohort study within a multicenter randomized clinical trial.
Methods: A total of 1330 eyes of 1090 subjects undergoing DSAEK were randomized to receive a donor cornea with preservation time (PT) of 0-7 days (n = 675) or 8-14 days (n = 655) and followed for 3 years. Central endothelial cell density (ECD) was determined by a central image analysis reading center. Multivariable Cox models adjusted for PT, recipient diagnosis, and surgeon effect were used to identify factors associated with rejection.
Results: Cumulative probability of definite graft rejection was 3.6% (99% confidence interval 2.5%-5.3%). Younger recipient age was associated with graft rejection (P < .001; hazard ratio: 0.53 [0.33, 0.83] per decade). PT, donor-recipient sex mismatch, recipient diagnosis, recipient race, graft size, discontinuation of topical corticosteroids and immune-modulators, prior immunizations within 3 months, and prior glaucoma surgery were not associated with rejection (P > .01). Among clear grafts with an ECD measurement at baseline and 3 years (n = 913), endothelial cell loss (ECL) was greater in eyes that experienced a rejection episode (n = 27) than in those that did not (n = 886) (48% vs 38%, P = .03). Twelve of 44 eyes (27%) with definite graft rejection subsequently failed, comprising 15% of the 79 failures in the CPTS.
Conclusions: Graft rejection is uncommon after DSAEK and more likely with younger age, in a study cohort mostly > 50 years old. Rejection increases ECL, but it is not a leading cause of DSAEK failure.
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