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Taiwan J Ophthalmol. 2019 Sep 12;9(3):141-149. doi: 10.4103/tjo.tjo_57_19. eCollection 2019 Jul-Sep.

Update on the role of impression cytology in ocular surface disease.

Thia ZZ1, Tong L1,2,3,4.

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1
Department of Ophthalmology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
2
Corneal and External Eye Disease Service, Singapore National Eye Center, Singapore.
3
Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore.
4
Eye-academic Clinical Program, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.

Abstract

Understanding of the molecular pathology of ocular surface disease (OSD) is poor, and treatment is highly unsatisfactory. To facilitate treatment of OSD, a relatively noninvasive procedure, i.e. impression cytology (IC) has been shown to be useful. Recently, the technologies employed in research studies using IC in OSD have vastly improved, and standardized IC has even been used in clinical trials of dry eye. Here, this review aims to describe the advances of IC in the last 10 years, which serves as an update on the progress in this field since the last major review of IC. OSD that has been recently evaluated include meibomian gland dysfunction, Sjogren's syndrome, Steven-Johnson syndrome, and postmenopausal dry eye. The recent studies (4 longitudinal, 18 cross-sectional analyses) which utilized IC analyzed DNA, RNA, proteins, and ocular surface cells, including memory T-lymphocytes, dendritic cells (DCs), neutrophils, conjunctival epithelial cells, and goblet cells. These studies employed quantification of transcripts associated with inflammation, proteins involved in oxidative stress, enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases, and cell surface proteins by flow cytometry, such as HLA-DR, cytokine and chemokine receptors, markers for T cell differentiation, and DC activation, in addition to the more traditional morphological evaluation of squamous metaplasia and staining for goblet cells. Some challenges in the clinical use of IC have also been described, including issues related to storage and normalization of data. In summary, advances in IC have permitted a more robust evaluation of the ocular surface and will facilitate progress in the understanding and treatment of OSD.

KEYWORDS:

Blepharitis; conjunctiva; diagnosis; dry eye; impression cytology; inflammation; medical device; review

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interests of this paper.

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