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Friedrich P. Paulsen, Marc Föge, Andreas B. Thale, Bernhard N. Tillmann, Rolf Mentlein; Animal Model for the Absorption of Lipophilic Substances from Tear Fluid by the Epithelium of the Nasolacrimal Ducts. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(10):3137-3143.
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purpose. To compare the nasolacrimal tissues of several species to see how closely they resemble the human and to measure nasolacrimal absorption of a substance, to show that an absorption pathway exists for substances placed in the external eye, other than directly through the cornea or conjunctiva.
methods. The nasolacrimal systems of six different vertebrates were investigated by light microscopy to find a species with a nasolacrimal system comparable to that of humans, for use in absorption experiments. In addition to primates, rabbits were revealed by histology to have a lacrimal system closely comparable to that of humans. The rabbit lacrimal system had a stratified epithelium consisting of two layers. Subepithelially, the lamina propria was composed of two strata: loose connective tissue containing elastic fibers and lymphatic cells and a rich venous plexus comparable to a cavernous body. Rabbits were therefore chosen for the absorption experiments. 3H-cortisol was dropped into the eyes of female rabbits. After 21, 43, or 146 minutes, the rabbits were killed, the blood collected, and the nasolacrimal systems prepared and embedded for histologic examination. Serum was obtained from the clotted blood, and radioactivity was counted. Autoradiographs of sections of rabbit nasolacrimal duct were also prepared.
results. Uptake of radioactivity into the serum was high and increased with time. After 21 minutes, maximum incorporation of the applied radioactivity into the blood the level was 7.1%; after 43 minutes, 12.4%; and after 146 minutes, 15.5%. Transport of radioactivity was visualized in autoradiographs of rabbit nasolacrimal systems.
conclusions. 3H-cortisol is incorporated from the nasolacrimal ducts into the blood of rabbits. The comparable morphology of rabbits and humans suggests that absorption of cortisol would also take place in humans. Future investigations of the nasolacrimal passage are needed to understand whether absorption of normal tear fluid components in the nasolacrimal ducts is a physiological function that also plays a role in pathologic conditions such as dry eye. The similarities between rabbit and human nasolacrimal ducts support the use of the rabbit for such studies.
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