The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Abstract: Pregnancy & dry eye

My dry eyes got a lot worse during pregnancy. There's a ton of literature about the hormonal causes of dry eye but not a lot on pregnancy. Even though this study's just about bunnies, it's nice to have something this firm.

Changes of the ocular surface and aquaporins in the lacrimal glands of rabbits during pregnancy.

To test the hypotheses that pregnancy represents a physiologic condition that is associated with dry eye symptoms, and the expression of aquaporin 4 (AQP4) and AQP5 are altered in the lacrimal gland (LG) from term pregnant rabbits.

Schirmer's test, tear break-up time (BUT), and Rose Bengal staining were used to evaluate ocular surface health. LG were obtained from term pregnant rabbits and age-matched female control rabbits and then processed for laser capture microdissection (LCM), real time RT-PCR, western blot, and immunofluorescence for the detection and quantification of mRNA and proteins of AQP4 and AQP5.

Pregnant rabbits demonstrated typical clinical symptoms of dry eye, including decreased Schirmer score and BUT as well as increased Rose Bengal staining of cornea. In term pregnant rabbits, mRNA for AQP5 from whole LG was significantly lower than that of control rabbits, while mRNA for AQP4 was not. Levels of mRNA for AQP4 and AQP5 underwent significant changes in acini and epithelial cells from specific duct segments during pregnancy. Western blot from whole LG lysates demonstrated that expression of AQP4 was 24% more abundant in term pregnant rabbits while AQP5 was 22% less when compared to control rabbits respectively. At term pregnancy, AQP4 immunoreactivity (AQP4-IR) was increased in acini while its intensity remained the same in ducts. AQP5-IR was present in both apical and basolateral membranes of acinar cells in normal control and pregnant rabbits, while ductal cells in pregnant rabbits also showed significant amount of AQP5-IR.

The data presented here demonstrated significant dry eye symptoms in pregnant rabbits. Our data also showed altered expressions of AQP4 and AQP5 during pregnancy and suggested that these changes may contribute to the altered LG secretion and dry eye symptoms during pregnancy.

Mol Vis. 2011;17:2847-55. Epub 2011 Nov 9.
Ding C, Lu M, Huang J.
Department of Cell and Neurobiology, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9112, USA.