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Int J Nanomedicine. 2017 Feb 28;12:1663-1671. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S126968. eCollection 2017.

Proteomic analysis of tears following acupuncture treatment for menopausal dry eye disease by two-dimensional nano-liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai.
Department of Ophthalmology, Nanchang University, Nanchang.
Department of Ophthalmology, Shanghai Municipal Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.



The purpose of this study was to investigate whether acupuncture is effective at treating dry eye disease among postmenopausal women and to identify the possible mechanisms.


Twenty-eight postmenopausal women with dry eye disease were randomly divided into two groups: an acupuncture plus artificial tears (AC + AT) group and an artificial tears (AT) only group. After baseline examination of clinical parameters and tear sample collection, each patient received the designated modality of topical therapy for 2 months. Post-treatment documentation of clinical parameters was recorded, and tear samples were collected. Tear samples from the AC + AT group were subjected to two-dimensional nano-liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (2D nano-LC-MS/MS). Western blot analysis was also performed on tear samples from both groups.


After treatment, the Ocular Surface Disease Index scores, symptom assessment scores, scores of sign assessment, and tear break-up time were significantly improved in both groups (P=0.000). Symptom assessment scores were significantly improved in the AC + AT group (P=0.000) compared with the AT group. 2D nano-LC-MS/MS identified 2,411 proteins, among which 142 were downregulated and 169 were upregulated. After combined AC + AT treatment, the abundance of secreted proteins was increased, whereas that of cytoplasmic proteins decreased (Pearson's χ2 test, P=0.000, P=0.000, respectively). Proteins involved in immunity and regulation were also more abundant (Pearson's χ2 test, P=0.040, P=0.016, respectively), while components and proliferation-related proteins were downregulated (Pearson's χ2 test, P=0.003, P=0.011, respectively).


AC + AT treatment increased protein synthesis and secretion, and improved clinical symptoms. These results indicate that acupuncture may be a complimentary therapy for treating postmenopausal dry eye disease.


acupuncture; menopausal dry eye; proteomics

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