Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) play an important role in transplant rejection and tolerance. In high-risk corneal transplantation, where the graft bed is inflamed and vascularized, immature APCs in the donor corneal stroma quickly mature and migrate to lymphoid tissues to sensitize host T cells. In this study, using a mouse model of corneal transplantation, we investigated whether enrichment of tolerogenic APCs (tolAPCs) in donor corneas can enhance graft survival in corneal allograft recipients with inflamed graft beds. Treatment of donor corneas with interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGFβ1) altered the phenotype and function of tissue-residing APCs. Transplantation of these tolAPC-enriched corneas decreased frequencies of interferon gamma (IFNγ)(+) effector T cells (Teffs), as well as allosensitization in the hosts, diminished graft infiltration of CD45(+) and CD4(+) cells, and significantly improved corneal allograft survival compared to saline-injected controls. These data provide a novel approach for tolAPC-based immunotherapy in transplantation by direct cytokine conditioning of the donor tissue.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a central role in the induction and maintenance of immune homeostasis and self-tolerance. Tregs constantly express the high-affinity receptor to IL-2. IL-2 is a pleiotropic cytokine and a key survival factor for Tregs. It maintains Tregs' suppressive function by promoting Foxp3 expression and subsequent production of immunoregulatory cytokines. Administration of low-dose IL-2 is shown to be a promising approach to prevent allograft rejection and to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions in experimental models. The combination of IL-2 with its mAb (JES6-1) has also been shown to increase the of IL-2 and further enhance Treg frequencies and function. Low-dose IL-2 therapy has been used in several clinical trials to treat conditions such as hepatitis C vasculitis, graft-versus-host disease, type 1 diabetes, and systemic lupus erythematosus. In this paper, we summarize our findings on low-dose IL-2 treatment in corneal allografting and review recent studies focusing on the use of low-dose IL-2 in transplantation, autoimmunity, and other inflammatory conditions. We also discuss potential areas of further investigation with the aim to optimize current low-dose IL-2 regimens.
BACKGROUND: Corneal allograft survival dramatically decreases in hosts with inflamed or vascularized recipient beds. We have previously shown that in rejected corneal allografts regulatory T cells (Treg) demonstrate diminished Foxp3 expression and immunoregulatory function. Treatment with low doses of IL-2 selectively expands Treg and has been proposed for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. In this study, we investigated the effect of low-dose IL-2 administration on Treg function and corneal allograft survival. METHODS: Allogeneic corneal transplantation was performed on inflamed host beds. Low-dose systemic IL-2 was administered starting 3 days before grafting until 6 weeks after transplantation. Frequencies of Treg and their immunosuppressive function and antigen specificity were assessed using flow cytometry, in vitro proliferation assays, and adoptive transfer experiments. Frequencies of effector T cells (Teff) and graft infiltrating immune cells were measured at 2 weeks posttransplantation. Long-term allograft survival was evaluated for up to 9 weeks using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. RESULTS: Treatment with low-dose IL-2 significantly increased frequencies of CD4CD25Foxp3 Treg and their immunosuppressive function. It also suppressed alloimmune response as shown by the decreased CD4 IFNγ T cell frequencies and graft infiltration of CD45 and CD4 cells. Clinical evaluation of the grafts showed significant improvement in long-term corneal allograft survival in the IL-2 treated group compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS: Our study is the first to report that treatment with low-dose IL-2 increases survival of corneal allografts. We propose that IL-2-mediated Treg expansion can be an effective tool to prevent alloimmunity and to improve long-term allograft survival in transplantation.
Diagnosis and treatment planning in ophthalmology heavily depend on clinical examination and advanced imaging modalities, which can be time-consuming and carry the risk of human error. Artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning (DL) are being used in different fields of ophthalmology and in particular, when running diagnostics and predicting outcomes of anterior segment surgeries. This review will evaluate the recent developments in AI for diagnostics, surgical interventions, and prognosis of corneal diseases. It also provides a brief overview of the newer AI dependent modalities in corneal diseases.
Substance P (SP) is a tachykinin neuropeptide, implicated in the pathogenesis of various inflammatory conditions and a critical mediator in pain transmission. Recently, the role of SP was described in the pathogenesis of dry eye disease (DED) through its role in the maturation of antigen-presenting cells at the ocular surface after exposure to desiccating stress. However, the effect of SP on regulatory T cells (Tregs), which are functionally impaired in DED, remains unclear. This study examined the phenotypic and functional changes in Tregs in response to SP in DED. The in vitro cultures of normal Tregs in the presence of SP led to a significant reduction in both Treg frequencies and their suppressive function, which was prevented by the addition of an SP receptor (neurokinin-1 receptor) antagonist. Furthermore, in vivo treatment with the neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist in DED mice effectively restored Treg function, suppressed pathogenic T helper 17 response, and significantly ameliorated the disease. Our results show that a significant increase in SP levels promotes Treg dysfunction in DED, and blockade of SP effectively restores Treg function and suppresses DED severity.
PURPOSE: In this study, we examine the expression of corneal epithelium-derived thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) and its immunomodulatory functions in a validated murine model of dry eye disease (DED). METHODS: DED was induced in female C57BL/6 using a controlled environment chamber (CEC) for 14 days. mRNA and protein expression of TSP-1 by corneal epithelial cells was quantified using real-time PCR and flow cytometry. Corneal epithelial cells from either naïve or DED mice were cultured with bone marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) in the presence of IFNγ for 48 h, and BMDC expression of MHC-II and CD86 was determined using flow cytometry. Next, either recombinant TSP-1 or anti-TSP-1 antibody was added to the co-culture, and BMDC expression of above activation markers was evaluated. Finally, either DED mice were topically treated with either recombinant TSP-1 or human serum albumin (HSA), and maturation of corneal DCs, expression of inflammatory cytokines, and DED severity were investigated. RESULTS: mRNA expression of TSP-1 by the corneal epithelium was upregulated in DED. Corneal epithelial cells derived from mice with DED demonstrated an enhanced capacity in suppressing BMDC expression of MHC-II and CD86 relative to wild type mice, and this effect was abrogated by TSP-1 blockade and potentiated by recombinant TSP-1. Finally, topical application of recombinant TSP-1 significantly suppressed corneal DC maturation and mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and ameliorated disease severity in mice with DED. CONCLUSIONS: Our study elucidates the function of epithelium-derived TSP-1 in inhibiting DC maturation and shows its translational potential to limit corneal epitheliopathy in DED.
PURPOSE: To quantitatively evaluate the angle anatomy in eyes with the Boston type I keratoprosthesis (B-KPro) differing in the back plate (BP) material and size using anterior segment optical coherence tomography. METHODS: B-KPro eyes with poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) (7.0 and 8.5 mm) and titanium (7.0, 8.5, and 9.5 mm) BPs were imaged with anterior segment optical coherence tomography. The angle opening distance at 500 μm from the scleral spur (AOD500), trabecular iris surface area at 500 μm from the scleral spur (TISA500), and trabecular iris angle at 500 μm from the scleral spur (TIA500) were measured. Among the visible quadrants, the average, the temporal, the widest, and the narrowest angle of each eye were included in the analysis. Average time between B-KPro implantation and imaging was 7.5 ± 1.4 years for a PMMA BP and 2.4 ± 2.3 years for a titanium BP (P < 0.0001). RESULTS: We analyzed 17 B-KPro eyes with PMMA BPs and 24 B-KPro eyes with titanium BPs. The average AOD500 (394.1 ± 226.9 vs. 454.5 ± 255.6 μm, P = 0.44), average TIA500 (26.2 ± 14.2 vs. 29.8 ± 13.9 degrees, P = 0.43), and average TISA500 (0.15 ± 0.08 vs. 0.17 ± 0.10 μm, P = 0.52) were not statistically different between eyes with PMMA and titanium BPs, nor were the temporal, the narrowest, and the widest angle measurements of each eye (all P > 0.05). Similarly, no significant differences were found between the angle measurements of B-KPro eyes with a titanium BP diameter of 8.5 or 9.5 mm (all P > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: We successfully visualized the angle anatomy in 66.1% of the imaged eyes, including all BPs studied. Neither the material nor the size of the B-KPro BP had a significant impact on the angle anatomy.
Transmembrane mucins are highly O-glycosylated glycoproteins that coat the apical glycocalyx on mucosal surfaces and represent the first line of cellular defense against infection and injury. Relatively low levels of N-glycans are found on transmembrane mucins, and their structure and function remain poorly characterized. We previously reported that carbohydrate-dependent interactions of transmembrane mucins with galectin-3 contribute to maintenance of the epithelial barrier at the ocular surface. Now, using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, we report that transmembrane mucin N-glycans in differentiated human corneal epithelial cells contain primarily complex-type structures with N-acetyllactosamine, a preferred galectin ligand. In N-glycosylation inhibition experiments, we find that treatment with tunicamycin and siRNA-mediated knockdown of the Golgi N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase I gene (MGAT1) induce partial loss of both total and cell-surface levels of the largest mucin, MUC16, and a concomitant reduction in glycocalyx barrier function. Moreover, we identified a distinct role for N-glycans in promoting MUC16's binding affinity toward galectin-3 and in causing retention of the lectin on the epithelial cell surface. Taken together, these studies define a role for N-linked oligosaccharides in supporting the stability and function of transmembrane mucins on mucosal surfaces.
The prevalence of dry eye disease is high worldwide and poses a great burden on patients' daily lives. Accurate diagnosis of the disease is important, and it requires application of various methods. Hyperosmolarity is believed to be the disease marker and thus measuring it provides useful information. In this study we investigated utility of tear osmolarity measured with TearLab osmometer, along with other diagnostic tests (Ocular Surface Disease Index questionnaire, Tear film break-up time, Ocular Protection Index, Ocular Surface Staining, Schirmer I test, Meibomian gland functionality in 757 patients (1514 eyes) with dry eye disease and 29 healthy controls (58 eyes). Statistical differences between the patient group and the control group were observed for all the tests apart from tear osmolarity, regardless of cut-off value (>308 mOsm/L, >316 mOsm/L, and inter-eye difference >8 mOsm/L). Moreover, in the receiver operating characteristics curve analyses tear osmolarity measurement could not discriminate dry eye disease pathological scores. Therefore, our study suggests that tear osmolarity measured with TearLab osmometer cannot be used as a key indicator of DED.
Thrombospondin-1-deficient (TSP-1) mice are used as an animal model of Sjögren's Syndrome because they exhibit many of the symptoms associated with the autoimmune type of dry eye found in primary Sjögren's Syndrome. This type of dry eye is linked to the inflammation of the lacrimal gland, conjunctiva, and cornea, and is thought to involve dysfunction of the complex neuronal reflex arc that mediates tear production in response to noxious stimuli on the ocular surface. This study characterizes the structural and functional changes to the corneal nerves that are the afferent arm of this arc in young and older TSP-1 and wild type (WT) mice. The structure and subtype of nerves were characterized by immunohistochemistry, in vivo confocal microscopy, and confocal microscopy. Cytokine expression analysis was determined by Q-PCR and the number of monocytes was measured by immunohistochemistry. We found that only the pro-inflammatory cytokine MIP-2 increased in young corneas of TSP-1 compared to WT mice, but tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) all increased in older TSP-1 mouse corneas. In contrast, CD11b+ pro-inflammatory monocytes did not increase even in older mouse corneas. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-, but not Substance P (SubP)-containing corneal nerves decreased in older, but not younger TSP-1 compared to WT mouse corneas. We conclude that CGRP-containing corneal sensory nerves exhibit distinct structural deficiencies as disease progresses in TSP-1 mice, suggesting that: (1) TSP-1 is needed for the development or repair of these nerves and (2) impaired afferent corneal nerve structure and hence function may contribute to ocular surface dysfunction that develops as TSP-1 mice age.
PURPOSE: To investigate sex and age differences in symptoms and signs in a Norwegian clinic-based cohort of patients with dry eye disease (DED). METHODS: Visitors at the Norwegian Dry Eye Clinic were examined using Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaire score, tear osmolarity, tear break-up time (TFBUT), ocular surface staining, corneal sensitivity, Schirmer I test, and meibum expressibility (ME) and quality (MQ). A diagnosis of DED was made by an ophthalmologist based on symptoms and signs, and only DED patients were enrolled in the study: 1823 patients (338 males; mean age 51.2 ± 16.2 years; 1485 females; mean age 52.5 ± 16.0 years). The patients were divided into age subgroups: 20-39 years, 40-59 years and ≥60 years. Sex differences in the aforementioned tests were analyzed. Values were reported as mean ± standard deviation (SD), and intergroup comparisons were performed using Mann-Whitney U test. Multiple regression was used to analyze sex and age influences on symptoms and signs. RESULTS: When patients of all ages were analyzed, females had increased osmolarity, shorter TFBUT, reduced MQ and ME and higher corneal sensitivity. OSDI, Schirmer I test, ocular surface staining and corneal staining were not significantly different between the sexes. Only with TFBUT and ME were the sex difference present in all age subgroups. Multiple regression showed that all parameters were influenced by either sex or age, but only TFBUT and ME were influenced by both sex and age. (all p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Sex and age differences in dry eye were most consistent in TFBUT and ME, that indicate differences in meibomian gland functionality. Sex and age subgroup stratification is important in future studies investigating DED in other populations.
Purpose: Sjögren syndrome is an autoimmune disease that occurs primarily in women, and is associated with lacrimal gland inflammation and aqueous-deficient dry eye. We hypothesize that sex-associated differences in lacrimal gland gene expression are very important in promoting lymphocyte accumulation in this tissue and contribute to the onset, progression, and/or severity of the inflammatory disease process. To test our hypothesis, we explored the nature and extent of sex-related differences in gene expression in autoimmune lacrimal glands. Methods: Lacrimal glands were collected from age-matched, adult, male and female MRL/MpJ-Tnfrsf6lpr (MRL/lpr) and nonobese diabetic/LtJ (NOD) mice. Glands were processed for the analysis of differentially expressed mRNAs by using CodeLink Bioarrays and Affymetrix GeneChips. Data were evaluated with bioinformatics and statistical software. Results: Our results show that sex significantly influences the expression of thousands of genes in lacrimal glands of MRL/lpr and NOD mice. The immune nature of this glandular response is very dependent on the Sjögren syndrome model. Lacrimal glands of female, as compared with male, MRL/lpr mice contain a significant increase in the expression of genes related to inflammatory responses, antigen processing, and chemokine pathways. In contrast, it is the lacrimal tissue of NOD males, and not females, that presents with a significantly greater expression of immune-related genes. Conclusions: These data support our hypothesis that sex-related differences in gene expression contribute to lacrimal gland disease in Sjögren syndrome. Our findings also suggest that factors in the lacrimal gland microenvironment are critically important in mediating these sex-associated immune effects.
PURPOSE: Keratoconus (KC) is a corneal ectasia whose pathophysiology is still mostly unknown. We investigated whether thyroid gland dysfunction (TGD) is associated with the development of KC. METHODS: We first conducted an epidemiological study, examining the prevalence of TGD among patients with KC. Then, we compared tear thyroxine (T4) in TGD and immunohistochemical staining of its receptors (T4Rs) between patients with KC and controls. The significance of T4 for corneal metabolism was studied in organotypic tissue cultures from monkey corneas. RESULTS: We found that TGD prevalence among patients with KC is 13.6%, which is higher than its prevalence in the general population (about 2%). Tear T4 was higher in KC, and keratocyte T4Rs were elevated in KC compared with controls. Furthermore, core proteins such as collagen and cytokeratins were equally altered both in KC and in the cultured corneas substituted with T4. CONCLUSIONS: Our data implicate a crucial role of T4 in KC pathophysiology, which is most likely mediated by T4Rs.
PURPOSE: To illustrate that corneal neuralgia may be the basis for refractory dry eye syndrome after laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK). METHODS: The methodology used is that of a retrospective medical record review of a small case series. RESULTS: Three male patients, aged 30 to 48 years, referred in 2012 for dry eye syndrome refractory to treatment within 1 year of LASIK or LASIK enhancement are reported. Each patient gave history of eye pain, light sensitivity, and difficulty with visual activities beginning within 2 months of LASIK or LASIK enhancement. Best-corrected visual acuity was 20/15 or 20/20 in each of the six eyes. Tear-centered models and metrics did not explain persistent symptoms, which was consistent with inadequate response to standard dry eye treatments used before referral and reported here. In vivo confocal microscopy was abnormal at presentation in each case and was followed over time. Treatments undertaken subsequent to referral included autologous serum tears (three cases), PROSE (Prosthetic Replacement of the Ocular Surface Ecosystem) treatment (two cases), and systemic agents for pain, anxiety, or depression (three cases). By the end of 2013, at a mean of 23 months after LASIK or LASIK enhancement, symptoms improved in all three patients. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with persistent dry eye symptoms out of proportion to clinical signs after LASIK have a syndrome that may best be classified as corneal neuralgia. In vivo confocal microscopy can be informative as to the neuropathic basis of this condition. In keeping with current understanding of complex regional pain syndrome, early multimodal treatment directed toward reducing peripheral nociceptive signaling is warranted to avoid subsequent centralization and persistence of pain. Distinguishing this syndrome from typical post-LASIK dry eye remains a challenge.
With the advancement of computational power, refinement of learning algorithms and architectures, and availability of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) technology, particularly with machine learning and deep learning, is paving the way for 'intelligent' healthcare systems. AI-related research in ophthalmology previously focused on the screening and diagnosis of posterior segment diseases, particularly diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. There is now emerging evidence demonstrating the application of AI to the diagnosis and management of a variety of anterior segment conditions. In this review, we provide an overview of AI applications to the anterior segment addressing keratoconus, infectious keratitis, refractive surgery, corneal transplant, adult and paediatric cataracts, angle-closure glaucoma and iris tumour, and highlight important clinical considerations for adoption of AI technologies, potential integration with telemedicine and future directions.
Closure of ocular wounds after an accident or surgery is typically performed by suturing, which is associated with numerous potential complications, including suture breakage, inflammation, secondary neovascularization, erosion to the surface and secondary infection, and astigmatism; for example, more than half of post-corneal transplant infections are due to suture related complications. Tissue adhesives provide promising substitutes for sutures in ophthalmic surgery. Ocular adhesives are not only intended to address the shortcomings of sutures, but also designed to be easy to use, and can potentially minimize post-operative complications. Herein, recent progress in the design, synthesis, and application of ocular adhesives, along with their advantages, limitations, and potential are discussed. This review covers two main classes of ocular adhesives: (1) synthetic adhesives based on cyanoacrylates, polyethylene glycol (PEG), and other synthetic polymers, and (2) adhesives based on naturally derived polymers, such as proteins and polysaccharides. In addition, different technologies to cover and protect ocular wounds such as contact bandage lenses, contact lenses coupled with novel technologies, and decellularized corneas are discussed. Continued advances in this area can help improve both patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes.
Over the past decades, the number of patients with dry eye disease (DED) has increased dramatically. The incidence of DED is higher in Asia than in Europe and North America, suggesting the involvement of cultural or racial factors in DED etiology. Although many definitions of DED have been used, discrepancies exist between the various definitions of dry eye disease (DED) used across the globe. This article presents a clinical consensus on the definition of DED, as formulated in four meetings with global DED experts. The proposed new definition is as follows: "Dry eye is a multifactorial disease characterized by a persistently unstable and/or deficient tear film (TF) causing discomfort and/or visual impairment, accompanied by variable degrees of ocular surface epitheliopathy, inflammation and neurosensory abnormalities." The key criteria for the diagnosis of DED are unstable TF, inflammation, ocular discomfort and visual impairment. This definition also recommends the assessment of ocular surface epitheliopathy and neurosensory abnormalities in each patient with suspected DED. It is easily applicable in clinical practice and should help practitioners diagnose DED consistently. This consensus definition of DED should also help to guide research and clinical trials that, to date, have been hampered by the lack of an established surrogate endpoint.
Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is a potent mediator of innate immunity commonly up-regulated in a broad spectrum of inflammatory diseases. When bound to its cell surface receptor, IL-1β initiates a signalling cascade that cooperatively induces the expression of canonical IL-1 target genes such as IL-8 and IL-6. Here, we present galectin-3 as a novel regulator of IL-1β responses in corneal keratinocytes. Using the SNAP-tag system and digitonin semi-permeabilization, we show that recombinant exogenous galectin-3 binds to the plasma membrane of keratinocytes and is internalized into cytoplasmic compartments. We find that exogenous galectin-3, but not a dominant negative inhibitor of galectin-3 polymerization lacking the N-terminal domain, exacerbates the response to IL-1β by stimulating the secretion of inflammatory cytokines. The activity of galectin-3 could be reduced by a novel d-galactopyranoside derivative targeting the conserved galactoside-binding site of galectins and did not involve interaction with IL-1 receptor 1 or the induction of endogenous IL-1β. Consistent with these observations, we demonstrate that small interfering RNA-mediated suppression of endogenous galectin-3 expression is sufficient to impair the IL-1β-induced secretion of IL-8 and IL-6 in a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase-independent manner. Collectively, our findings provide a novel role for galectin-3 as an amplifier of IL-1β responses during epithelial inflammation through an as yet unidentified mechanism.
Mucins are a group of highly glycosylated glycoproteins responsible for the protection of wet-surfaced epithelia. Recent data indicate that transmembrane mucins differ in their contribution to the protective function of the ocular surface, with MUC16 being the most effective barrier on the apical surface glycocalyx. Here, we investigated the role of the mucoprotective drug rebamipide in the regulation of transmembrane mucin biosynthesis using stratified cultures of human corneal and conjunctival epithelial cells. We find that the addition of rebamipide to corneal, but not conjunctival, epithelial cells increased MUC16 protein biosynthesis. Rebamipide did not affect the levels of MUC1, 4 and 20 compared to control. In these experiments, rebamipide had no effect on the expression levels of Notch intracellular domains, suggesting that the rebamipide-induced increase in MUC16 biosynthesis in differentiated corneal cultures is not regulated by Notch signaling. Overall these findings indicate that rebamipide induces the differential upregulation of MUC16 in stratified cultures of human corneal epithelial cells, which may have implications to the proper restoration of barrier function in ocular surface disease.
The first aim of this study was to clarify whether cigarette smoking affects tear secretion, goblet cell density, and tear MUC5AC concentration. The second purpose was to evaluate the correlations of conjunctival goblet cell density with tear MUC5AC concentration and other ocular surface evaluation factors. This cross-sectional study included 88 office workers. All subjects were required to fill in dry eye and smoking questionnaires, in addition to ocular surface evaluation. Tear wash fluid was collected from inferior fornix, and conjunctival epithelium was obtained by impression cytology. Tear MUC5AC concentration was quantified using enzyme-linked immunoassay, and conjunctival goblet cell density was counted after Periodic-acid Schiff staining. Tear MUC5AC concentration had significant positive correlation with conjunctival goblet cell density (r = 0.181, P = 0.03). In current smokers, Schirmer I test value, goblet cell density and tear MUC5AC concentration were significantly lower than non-smokers. Pack-years of smoking have significant negative correlation with goblet cell density (r = -0.174, P = 0.036) and tear MUC5AC concentration (r = -0.183, P = 0.028). We concluded that smoking might decrease tear secretion, goblet cell density and tear MUC5AC concentration. In addition, MUC5AC concentration in tears depends on goblet cell density in the conjunctiva among office workers.