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Exp Eye Res. 2013 Dec;117:39-52. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2013.05.020. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Lacritin and the tear proteome as natural replacement therapy for dry eye.

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School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.


Tear proteins are potential biomarkers, drug targets, and even biotherapeutics. As a biotherapeutic, a recombinant tear protein might physiologically rescue the ocular surface when a deficiency is detected. Such a strategy pays more attention to the natural prosecretory and protective properties of the tear film and seeks to alleviate symptoms by addressing cause, rather than the current palliative, non-specific and temporary approaches. Only a handful of tear proteins appear to be selectively downregulated in dry eye, the most common eye disease. Lacritin and lipocalin-1 are two tear proteins selectively deficient in dry eye. Both proteins influence ocular surface health. Lacritin is a prosecretory mitogen that promotes basal tearing when applied topically. Levels of active monomeric lacritin are negatively regulated by tear tissue transglutaminase, whose expression is elevated in dry eye with ocular surface inflammation. Lipocalin-1 is the master lipid sponge of the ocular surface, without which residual lipids could interfere with epithelial wetting. It also is a carrier for vitamins and steroid hormones, and is a key endonuclease. Accumulation of DNA in tears is thought to be proinflammatory. Functions of these and other tear proteins may be influenced by protein-protein interactions. Here we discuss new advances in lacritin biology and provide an overview on lipocalin-1, and newly identified members of the tear proteome.


cornea; dry eye; lacrimal gland; lacritin; tear lipocalin; tear proteome

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