Date Published:2014 Oct
Researchers have proposed that estrogen deficiency will lead to a Sjögren's syndrome (SjS)-like lacrimal gland inflammation, aqueous tear deficiency and dry eye. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this proposal is correct. Lacrimal glands were obtained from adult, age-matched wild type (WT) and aromatase knockout (ArKO) mice, in which estrogen synthesis is completely eliminated. Tissues were also obtained from autoimmune MRL/Mp-lpr/lpr (MRL/lpr) mice as inflammation controls. Tear volumes in WT and ArKO mice were measured and glands were processed for molecular biological and histological evaluation. Our results demonstrate that estrogen absence does not lead to a SjS-like inflammation in lacrimal tissue or to an aqueous-deficient dry eye. There was no upregulation of genes associated with inflammatory pathways in lacrimal glands of male or female ArKO mice. Such inflammatory activity was prominent in autoimmune MRL/lpr tissues. We also found no evidence of inflammation in lacrimal gland tissue sections of estrogen-deficient mice, and tear volumes of ArKO males were actually increased as compared to those WT controls. Interestingly, our study did show that estrogen absence influences the expression of thousands of lacrimal gland genes, and that this impact is sex- and genotype-specific. Our findings demonstrate that estrogen absence is not a risk factor for the development of SjS-like lacrimal gland inflammation or for aqueous-deficient dry eye in mice.