Quantification of Conjunctival TNF-α in Aqueous-Deficient Dry Eye
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PURPOSE: This study aimed to quantify and compare conjunctival epithelial tumor necrosis factor (NF) α mRNA expression in Sjögren syndrome (SS), non-Sjögren syndrome aqueous-deficient dry eye (non-SS DE), and non-dry eye (NDE) control subjects. METHODS: A total of 76 subjects were recruited for this study: 25 SS (confirmed via American-European Consensus Criteria 2002), 25 non-SS DE (confirmed by symptoms and Schirmer scores ≤ 10 mm), and 26 NDE. Superior and temporal bulbar conjunctival epithelial cells were collected via impression cytology. Epithelial RNA was extracted, and TNF-α mRNA expression was quantified by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: The expression of TNF-α mRNA was found to be significantly higher in the SS group (2.48 ± 1.79) compared to both non-SS DE (0.95 ± 1.18; p < 0.05) and NDE (0.84 ± 0.51; p < 0.05) groups. No difference in TNF-α mRNA expression was found between the non-SS DE and NDE groups (p = 0.67). CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that SS-associated aqueous-deficient dry eye is associated with a significant upregulation of conjunctival epithelial TNF-α mRNA relative to both non-SS DE and control groups. The degree to which TNF-α mRNA is upregulated in SS may contribute to the severe ocular surface damage observed in these patients.
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