Characterization of Tear Immunoglobulins in a Small-Cohort of Keratoconus Patients. Sci Rep 2020;10(1):9426.Abstract.
Keratoconus (KC) is classically considered a non-inflammatory condition caused by central corneal thinning that leads to astigmatism and reduced visual acuity. Previous studies have identified increased systemic levels of pro-inflammatory factors, including interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, and matrix metalloproteinase-9, suggesting that KC may have an inflammatory component in at least a subset of patients. In this study, we evaluated the levels of different immunoglobulins (light and heavy chains) based on Ig α, Ig λ, Ig κ, Ig µ, and Ig heavy chain subunits in non-KC tears (n = 7 control individuals) and KC tears (n = 7 KC patients) using tandem-liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. The most abundant Ig heavy chains detected in both control individuals and KC patients were Ig α-1 and Ig α-2 likely correlating to the higher IgA levels reported in human tears. We identified significant differences in immunoglobulin κ-chain V-II levels in KC patients compared to control individuals with no significant difference in Ig κ/Ig λ ratios or heavy chain levels. Our study supports previous findings suggesting that KC possesses a systemic component that may contribute to the KC pathology. Further studies are required to define causality and establish a role for systemic immune system-dependent factors and pro-inflammatory processes in KC development or progression.