May 2004
Volume 45, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2004
Composition of Infant Meibomian Gland Lipids.
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • W.E. Shine
    Ophthalmology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
  • G. Surratt
    Ophthalmology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
  • J.D. Aronowicz
    Ophthalmology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
  • J.P. McCulley
    Ophthalmology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  W.E. Shine, None; G. Surratt, None; J.D. Aronowicz, None; J.P. McCulley, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  NIH grant EY12430 and Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2004, Vol.45, 91. doi:
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      W.E. Shine, G. Surratt, J.D. Aronowicz, J.P. McCulley; Composition of Infant Meibomian Gland Lipids. . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(13):91.

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

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Abstract: : Purpose: To determine whether the lipid composition of infant meibomian gland secretions (meibum) may be responsible for the observation that infants blink infrequently compared to adults. Methods: Meibum was collected from infants 9 – 18 months old (n = 11). It was separated into lipid classes by solid phase extraction ( SPE) followed by HPLC with lipid detection by an evaporative light scattering detector (ELSD). Individual lipid types were identified and quantified; infant meibum was then compared to adult meibum. Results: Individual lipid types were determined as a percentage of the total (polar plus nonpolar lipids) for each group (adult or infant meibum or individual infant groups). Triglycerides (TG) were much higher (15.6% vs 5.0%) and free fatty acids much lower (0.1% vs 0.7%) in infant meibum than in adult meibum. The difference in TG approached significance (P .059). Of the polar lipids phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) was higher (1.5% vs 0.2%) and phosphatidylcholine lower (4.9% vs 11.6%) in infant meibum compared to adult meibum. Additionally PE was higher in younger infants (9 – 13 months old) than in older ones (2.2% vs 0.4%); adults also had a low level (0.2%). Cerebrosides were higher in older (14 – 18 month old) infants than in younger infants or adults (14.1% vs 4.8% and 7.5%). TG was not different between infant groups (15.9% and 15.4%). Conclusions: Our results suggest that high triglycerides may be important in infant tear film stability. Phosphatidylethanolamine (we have previously observed low levels to be associated with some types of dry eye in adults) is higher in young infants than in older ones or adults and this suggests a role in tear film stability. In addition our results suggest that cerebrosides may be important in older infants. The lower level of free fatty acids in infant meibum may also be beneficial. There are significant differences in infant meibum that may explain what appears to be a more stable tear film in infants accounting for a lower blink rate.

Keywords: lipids • clinical research methodology 

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