The Dry Eye Zone

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Abstract: Trehalose (experimental drug)

Exp Eye Res. 2009 Apr 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Trehalose protects against ocular surface disorders in experimental murine dry eye through suppression of apoptosis.

Chen W, Zhang X, Liu M, Zhang J, Ye Y, Lin Y, Luyckx J, Qu J.
School of Ophthalmology and Optometry, Eye Hospital, Wenzhou Medical College, 270 Xue Yuan West Road, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325027, China.

The disaccharide trehalose is a key element involved in anhydrobiosis (the capability of surviving almost complete dehydration) in many organisms. Its presence also confers resistance to desiccation and high osmolarity in bacterial and human cells by protecting proteins and membranes from denaturation. The present study used a novel murine dry eye model induced by controlled low-humidity air velocity to determine whether topically applied trehalose could heal ocular surface epithelial disorders caused by ocular surface desiccation. In addition, the efficacy of 87.6 mM trehalose eyedrops was compared with that of 20% serum, the efficacy of which has been well documented. Mice ocular surface epithelial disorders were induced by exposure of murine eyes to continuous controlled low-humidity air velocity in an intelligently controlled environmental system (ICES) for 21 days, which accelerated the tear evaporation. The mice were then randomized into three groups: the control group received PBS (0.01M) treatment; a second group received 87.6 mM trehalose eyedrops treatment; and the third group received mice serum eyedrops treatment. Each treatment was administered as a 10 mul dose every 6 h for 14 days. The resultant changes in corneal barrier function and histopathologic examination of cornea and conjunctiva were analyzed and the level of apoptosis on the ocular surface was assessed using active caspase-3. After 14 days of treatment, the corneal fluorescein staining area, the ruffling and desquamating cells on the apical corneal epithelium, as well as the apoptotic cells on ocular surface epithelium had significantly reduced in eyes treated with trehalose compared with those treated with serum and PBS. In contrast, after 14 days of treatment, improvements in the thickness of the corneal epithelium, the squamous metaplasia in conjunctival epithelium and the number of goblet cells of the conjunctiva were less marked in eyes treated with trehalose compared with serum. These results demonstrated that trehalose could improve the appearance of ocular surface epithelial disorders due to desiccation through suppression of apoptosis. Trehalose produces some of the same responses as serum upon topical application and can maintain corneal health.