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Snehal Sonawane, Vishakha Khanolkar, Abed Namavari, Shweta Chaudhary, Sonal Gandhi, Sapna Tibrewal, Sarmad H. Jassim, Brittany Shaheen, Joelle Hallak, John H. Horner, Martin Newcomb, Joy Sarkar, Sandeep Jain; Ocular Surface Extracellular DNA and Nuclease Activity Imbalance: A New Paradigm for Inflammation in Dry Eye Disease. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(13):8253-8263. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10430.
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We determined whether nucleases are deficient in the tear fluid of dry eye disease (DED) patients, and whether this causes extracellular DNA (eDNA) and neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) accumulation in the precorneal tear film, thus causing ocular surface inflammation.
Exfoliated cells adhered to Schirmer test strips were collected on glass slides, and immunofluorescence confocal microscopy was used to evaluate neutrophils, eDNA, NETs, and their molecular components. Similar experiments were performed with mucoid films collected from the inferior conjunctival fornix or bulbar conjunctiva. We used quantitative PCR to evaluate eDNA signaling pathways and inflammatory cytokine expression. We also determined the amount of ocular surface eDNA and evaluated tear fluid nuclease activity.
eDNA, NETs, and neutrophils were present on the ocular surface in DED patients and abundant in mucoid films. NETs consisted of eDNA, histones, cathelicidin, and neutrophil elastase. Tear fluid nuclease activity was decreased significantly in DED patients, whereas the amount of eDNA on the ocular surface was increased significantly. Expression of genes downstream of eDNA signaling, such as TLR9, MyD88, and type I interferon, as well as the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α, was significantly increased in DED patients.
Extracellular DNA production and clearance mechanisms are dysregulated in DED. Nuclease deficiency in tear fluid allows eDNA and NETs to accumulate in precorneal tear film, and results in ocular surface inflammation. These findings point to novel therapeutic interventions in severe DED based on clearance of eDNA, NETs, and other molecular components from the ocular surface.
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