Effectiveness of matching human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in corneal transplantation: a systematic review protocol

Gagandeep Singh Sachdeva, Joshua Piollo Cabada, Syed Saad Karim, Dmitry Lakvin Kahandawa, Kevin Anil Thomas, Anusha Kumar, Robert J Barry, Gibran Farook Butt

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BACKGROUND: Corneal transplantation is the most frequently performed transplantation in the UK. Despite this, the therapeutic value of matching human leukocyte antigen (HLA) subtypes for transplanted corneas remains controversial. Ocular immune privilege was originally deemed to render matching unnecessary; however, more recently, matching has demonstrated improved outcomes including graft success, amongst others. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effectiveness of major and minor antigen matching on graft outcomes in corneal transplantation.

METHODS: Standard systematic review methodology will be used to identify, select and extract data from observational studies and clinical trials assessing the effects of HLA matching on corneal graft outcomes. Bibliographic databases (Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus), clinical trial registers, abstract and conference proceedings, in addition to dissertation, thesis and grey literature will be searched. Neither date of publication nor language will be restricted, and non-English articles will be translated where necessary. The primary outcome will be to assess corneal graft success for different degrees of HLA matching/mismatching. The precise end outcome measure varies amongst studies and includes graft rejection, immunoreaction, failure and survival. Therefore, data will be extracted across all relevant outcome parameters and grouped for subsequent statistical tests. Risk of bias assessment will be completed, appropriate to each study design. Study selection, data extraction and risk of bias assessment will be independently completed by two reviewers. Data will be tabulated, and a narrative synthesis presented. Meta-analysis will be performed where there is sufficient homogeneity between studies to warrant its effective completion. Subgroup and sensitivity analysis will be undertaken if appropriate.

DISCUSSION: Many studies have investigated the effectiveness of HLA matching for corneal transplantation. A systematic review is needed to collate and analyse this evidence. Findings of this systematic review may form the basis of evidence-based recommendations on pre-operative HLA typing and matching of corneal grafts for transplantation.


Original languageEnglish
Article number150
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021


  • Corneal Transplantation
  • Graft Rejection/prevention & control
  • HLA Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


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