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The long-term effect of tacrolimus on alkali burn-induced corneal neovascularization and inflammation surpasses that of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor

Authors Chen L, Zhong J, Li S, Li W, Wang B, Deng Y, Yuan J

Received 25 May 2018

Accepted for publication 28 June 2018

Published 12 September 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 2959—2969


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Cristiana Tanase

Ling Chen,* Jing Zhong,* Saiqun Li, Weihua Li, Bowen Wang, Yuqing Deng, Jin Yuan

State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510060, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Purpose: To investigate the effect of tacrolimus in alkali burn-induced corneal neovascularization (NV) and inflammation and to compare with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF).
Methods: After corneal alkali-burn, 84 Wistar rats were randomly divided into three groups and received either saline solution or 0.05% tacrolimus (0.5 mg/mL) four times daily, or subconjunctival anti-VEGF injection (0.5 mg/0.05 mL). Corneal NV, opacity and epithelial defects, the status of inflammation, and the levels of proinflammatory and angiogenic cytokines were assessed on Days 3, 7, 14 and 28 post-injury.
Results: Compared with the control, tacrolimus significantly reduced corneal NV on Days 7, 14 and 28 post-injury, and anti-VEGF significantly reduced corneal NV at each assessment. Nevertheless, the tacrolimus group had significantly less corneal NV than the anti-VEGF group on Days 14 and 28. Furthermore, both tacrolimus and anti-VEGF significantly decreased the VEGF-A expression on Days 7 and 14, with no significant difference between the two groups. Moreover, corneal inflammatory response was alleviated, and corneal opacity and epithelial defects were significantly reduced by tacrolimus. Additionally, the expression of IL-1β, IL-6, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α and TGF-β were significantly decreased by tacrolimus.
Conclusion: Our findings suggested that 0.05% tacrolimus suspension eye drops effectively reduced alkali burn-induced corneal NV and inflammation, with a better effect than subconjunctival anti-VEGF injections on Days 14 and 28.

Keywords: tacrolimus, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, corneal alkali burn, corneal neovascularization, corneal inflammation

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