In the tear fluid the outermost part facing the tear-air interface is composed of lipids preventing evaporation of the tears. Phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP) mediates phospholipid transfer processes between serum lipoproteins and is also a normal component of human tears. To study whether PLTP plays any functional role in tear fluid we investigated PLTP-deficient mice, applying functional and morphologic analyses under normal housing and experimentally induced dry eye conditions. Aqueous tear fluid production, corneal epithelial morphology, barrier function, and occludin expression were assessed. In mice with a full deficiency of functional PLTP enhanced corneal epithelial damage, increased corneal permeability to carboxyfluorescein, and decreased corneal epithelial occludin expression were shown. These pathologic signs were worsened by experimentally induced dry eye both in wild-type and PLTP knock-out mice. Deficiency in the production of tear PLTP in mice is accompanied by corneal epithelial damage, a feature that is typical in human dry eye syndrome (DES). To complement animal experiments we collected tear fluid from human dry eye patients as well as healthy control subjects. Increased tear fluid PLTP activity was observed among DES patients. In conclusion, the presence of PLTP in tear fluid appears to be essential for maintaining a healthy and functional ocular surface. Increased PLTP activity in human tear fluid in DES patients suggests an ocular surface protective role for this lipid transfer protein.
Am J Pathol. 2011 May;178(5):2058-65.
Setälä NL, Metso J, Jauhiainen M, Sajantila A, Holopainen JM.
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Department of Ophthalmology, University of Turku, Finland; National Institute for Health and Welfare and Institute for Molecular Medicine, Biomedicum, Helsinki, Finland.