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W. Zhu, J. Xu; Age-Related Changes of Human Conjunctiva on in vivo Confocal Microscopy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):336.
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To analyze age-related changes of human conjunctiva by in vivo laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM).
80 eyes of 80 healthy subjects were enrolled in this study after a routine slit-lamp examination. They were divided into four groups according to the age: A (0~19), B (20~39), C (40~59) and D (over 60). In vivo laser scanning confocal microscopic examinations, the Heidelberg retina tomograph (HRTIII)/Rostock cornea modul (RCM), were performed on the superior, inferior, nasal and temporal bulbar conjunctiva and the images were recorded. The morphology and the density of conjunctival epithelial cells, goblet cells (GCs), dendritic cells (DCs), and the positive rate of degenerated GCs, so-called hyaline bodies (HBs), in different age groups were analyzed. Meanwhile, the diameters of subepithelial fibers in each group were measured as well.
The morphology and the densities of conjunctival epithelial cells manifested no apparent differences, except that the diameters of subepithelial fibers indicated a significant reduction with age. The mean GC densities in group A, B, C, D were 448±75, 429±70, 411±73, 406±64 (cells/mm2), presenting no apparent differences with age. The positive rates of HBs in group A, B, C, D were 30% (6/20), 50% (10/20), 60% (12/20) and 75% (15/20), showing a significant increasing correlation with age. Significant age-related changes were observed in both the morphology and the density of the DC, 36±29, 20±24, 19±22, 15±18 (cells/mm2) in four groups.
The age-related changes of conjunctiva included decreased densities of DCs as well as the degenerated subepithelial structures. In spite of no significant changes of GCs density with age, the increasing tendency of HBs indicated that the cellular function of GC declined while aging.
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