Although researchers know corneal dystrophies (CD) can result in visual impairment and require corneal transplantation in advanced stages, less is known about the ocular surface inflammatory status in different stages of these rare eye diseases. A team of researchers recently bridged this gap, finding dysregulated tear soluble factors in various types of corneal dystrophies and increased tear inflammatory factors in the majority of corneal dystrophy subjects, depending on the subtype.

The team evaluated 17 healthy controls and 30 corneal dystrophy patients with different disease types. They collected tear fluid and analyzed 27 soluble factors, including cytokines, chemokines, soluble cell adhesion molecules and growth factors.

The investigators discovered that significantly more patients with a corneal dystrophy had detectable levels of tear soluble factors compared with healthy controls:

  • Epithelial: IL-2, VCAM, IL-13, fractalkine, IL-1α, IL-8, IL-12, ANG, eotaxin, MCP1, RANTES, ICAM1, L-selectin, P-selectin
  • Stromal: IL-2, IL-4, TGFβ1, IgE
  • Macular: VCAM, IL-13, fractalkine
  • Lattice: TGFBIp
  • Endothelial: TGFBIp

The study authors concluded that their results “suggest a plausible role of aberrant inflammation in CD pathobiology. Hence, modulating inflammation could be a potential strategy in improving the prognosis of CD.” 

Shetty R, Naidu JR, Nair AP, et al. Distinct ocular surface soluble factor profile in human corneal dystrophies. Ocul Surf. November 19, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].