Hyperosmolar saline is a proinflammatory stress on the mouse ocular surface.

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To investigate whether hyperosmolar stress stimulates production of inflammatory mediators and activates the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways, c-jun n-terminal kinases (JNKs), extracellular-regulated kinases (ERKs), and p38 on the mouse ocular surface.


129SvEv/CD-1 mixed mice were treated with a balanced salt solution (BSS) (305 mOsM) or a hyperosmotic saline solution (HOSS) (500 mOsM). Untreated age-matched mice were used as controls. The concentrations of interleukin 1beta (IL-1beta) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Gelatinase activity was determined by in situ zymography. Corneal and conjunctival epithelia were lysed for Western blot with MAPK antibodies or used for semiquantitative reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction and gene array.


Compared with age-matched controls and mice treated with BSS, the concentration of IL-1beta in tear fluid washings and the concentrations of IL-1beta and TNF-alpha and gelatinolytic activity in the corneal and conjunctival epithelia were significantly increased in mice treated with HOSS for 2 days. The expressions of IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) messenger RNA by the corneal and conjunctival epithelia were also notably stimulated in mice treated with HOSS. The levels of phosphorylated JNK1/2, ERK1/2, and p38 MAPKs in the corneal and conjunctival epithelia were slightly increased in mice treated with BSS, but markedly increased in mice treated with HOSS.


These results show that the hyperosmolarity stimulates expression and production of IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, and MMP-9 and activates JNK, ERK, and p38 MAPK signaling pathways on the mouse ocular surface. These findings suggest that hyperosmolar stress, as it may occur in dry eye, promotes ocular surface inflammation.

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