Investigation of antioxidant systems in human meibomian gland and conjunctival tissues

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Oxidative stress (OS) associated with direct contact with the environment and light exposure is a very potent and continuous stressor of the ocular surface and internal structures of the eye that are required to manage its effects. Constant replenishment of tears together with the superficial lipid layer produced by the meibomian glands (MG) is one protective mechanism. The lipid-rich fraction of the tears coats the deeper aqueous fraction, preventing its evaporation. However, lipids are particularly sensitive to oxidative damage that could alter tear film quality. To counteract oxidative damage, MG along with other structures of the ocular surface use primary antioxidant (AO) systems to limit OS damage such as lipid peroxidation. Limited information concerning the primary enzymatic AO system of the human MG prompted this investigation. Using different approaches (RT-PCR, enzymatic activity assays and immuno-fluorescent microscopy), we determined the presence, distribution and subcellular locations of the major AO enzymes belonging to the classical catalytic triad (superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidases) in adult human MG and conjunctiva (Conj). We showed that both tissues exhibit glutathione peroxidase expression. In addition to the ubiquitous cytosolic GPx1 protein, there was significant expression of GPx2, GPx4 and GPx7. These isoforms are known to preferentially scavenge phospholipid-hydroperoxide compounds. This characterization of the primary AO system of human MG and Conj may help pave the way for the development of diagnostic procedures and have implications for treatment of common MG dysfunction (MGD) and dry eye syndrome (DES).

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