April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
Understanding the Synthesis of Lipids in the Meibomian Gland: An Ultrastructural Study
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Thomas J. Millar
    School of Natural Sciences, Univ of Western Sydney, Penrith South DC, Australia
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Thomas J. Millar, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  Australian Government linkage project scheme #LP0776482
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 3742. doi:
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      Thomas J. Millar; Understanding the Synthesis of Lipids in the Meibomian Gland: An Ultrastructural Study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):3742.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : Carbons and enormous amounts of energy are required for the synthesis of extremely long fatty acids and fatty alcohols by the meibomian gland. Given that the maturing acinar cells are progressively displaced from their scanty blood supply, easy access to carbon sources and oxygen for energy is not apparent. Ultrastructural studies have been carried out to resolve this conundrum.

Methods: : Rat meibomian glands were fixed in buffered aldehydes, embedded in plastic, and sectioned for electron microscopy.

Results: : Between the apical region of the basal cells and maturing acinar cells was a large space with fingerlike cytoplasmic projections. This appears to be due to lipid vesicles being transported from the basal cells into the intercellular space and then being taken up by the more mature acinar cells. Large desmosomes between the basal cells and maturing acinar cells maintain the structural integrity. There did not appear to transfer of lipids between mature acinar cells.

Conclusions: : Our results suggest that lipids produced by the basal cells are being transported via the apical region to more mature acinar cells located more centrally in the acinus. In these cells, the lipid vesicles fuse into larger vesicles and it is likely that the lipids are further modified in these acinar cells. Such a mechanism means that the lipid production mainly occurs in the basal cells which have easy access to carbons and oxygen.

Keywords: lipids • microscopy: electron microscopy 

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