To evaluate the role of estrogen in corneal nociception, its influence on lacrimal secretion, and development of dry eye.Methods:
Ovariectomy was performed in normal healthy female rats (OVX). Estrogen replacement was performed in a population of these rats (OVX+E). Tests for dry eye and corneal sensitivity were performed and compared with rats in proestrus (PRO) as controls. Gene expression of neuropeptides such as substance P, calcitonin gene receptor-like protein (CGRP), estrogen receptor α, TRPV1, and TRPM8 was evaluated in the cornea and trigeminal ganglion. Expression of substance P and CGRP in the cornea was also examined by immunohistochemistry. The response of the cornea to capsaicin and menthol was evaluated to identify the activity of receptors TRPV1 and TRPM8, respectively.Results:
There was a significant decrease in tear formation (4.2 ± 0.6 mm/min vs. 6.6 ± 0.42 mm/min), corneal sensitivity (2.2 ± 0.17 cm vs. 6 ± 0 cm), and increase in fluorescein staining in corneas after ovariectomy compared with controls. There was a significant decrease in gene expression of CGRP, substance P, TRPV1, and TRPM8 in the ovarioectomized cornea. A significant decrease in tear formation (3.17 ± 0.30 mm/min vs. 7.17 ± 0.87 mm/min) and eye wipe response (10.5 ± 1.99 wipes vs. 18.33 ± 1.05 wipes) after treatment with menthol and capsaicin in OVX rats was observed. Estrogen replacement significantly enhanced tear formation (4.02 ± 0.6 mm/min vs. 6.7 ± 0.80 mm/min), corneal sensitivity (2.2 ± 0.17 cm vs. 3.2 ± 0.17 cm), and response to capsaicin (10.5 ± 1.99 eye wipes vs. 24.5 ± 0.92 wipes) and menthol (3.17 ± 0.30 mm/min vs. 6.5 ± 0.22 mm/min) and increased expression of neuropeptides, TRPV1 and TRPM8.Conclusions:
This study demonstrates the role of estrogen in corneal nociception and its deficiency as a cause of dry eye.