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Ophthalmic Res. 2001 May-Jun;33(3):170-5.

Turnover and migration of meibomian gland cells in rats' eyelids.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Hadassah University Hospital and Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel.



The object of this study is to determine the velocity and migration course of meibomian gland cells.


Twenty-seven adult rats weighing about 200 g were injected intraperitoneally with a single dose of 0.5 microCi [3H]-thymidine/g body weight. Three rats were sacrificed 1 h after injection and 3 rats each on days 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 28 after injection. The eyes and eyelids were removed in one piece, fixed in formalin, embedded in paraffin and cut into 5-micron-thick vertical sections along the pupillary-optic nerve axis. The sections were dipped in liquid autoradiographic emulsion, exposed for 3 weeks, and stained with HE. Meibomian glands were scanned in the lower eyelid of the left eye using an ocular micrometer grid. In each scan the basement membrane of each acinus served as a point of origin. Along the entire gland two parameters were noted for each nucleus with three grains or more: the distance from the basement membrane (Y) and grain count.


This study demonstrates for the first time the exact timing and direction of meibomian gland cell migration. We have shown that the cells migrate from the basement membrane to the center of the acinus at an average rate of 0.62 +/- 0.11 micron/day. Cell generation time was an average of 4.1 days.


The stem cells of meibomian glands lie at the circumference of each acinus. These cells migrate synchronously with a constant velocity towards the center of the acinus, and are secreted as sebaceous material.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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