The Dry Eye Zone

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Study: Changes to meibum after stem cell transplants

Picking apart more of the dry eye puzzle in people who have undergone cancer treatments….

Structural Differences in Meibum From Donors After Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantations Ramasubramanian et al, Cornea. 2019 Jun 28.


Meibum is considered to be a key component of tears that serve to protect the eye, and conformational changes in meibum have not been studied extensively within the population of patients who had hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The aim of this study was to determine possible lipid conformational changes in the meibum of patients who had HSCT.


Participants who had HSCT were randomly sampled for this prospective comparative study. Control participants did not have dry eye or had not undergone allogeneic or autologous stem cell transplantation. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy was used to measure meibum phase transition.


Meibum was collected from both eyes of 36 donors without dry eye (Mc) and from 22 patients who had undergone HSCT (MHSCT). There were no significant differences between the phase transition parameters based on gender or race. The following were the significant differences (P < 0.0001) between the parameters for Mc compared with MHSCT : lipid order (% trans) at 33.4°C increased from 40 (1) to 54 (2), cooperativity decreased from 7.9 (0.4) to 5.4 (0.3), the phase transition temperature (C) increased from 30.3 (0.4) to 34.2 (0.9), and the magnitude of the phase transition (cm) increased from 4.0 (0.1) to 4.7 (0.5) (standard error of the mean).


Conformational and thermodynamic differences were observed between Mc and MHSCT. The changes observed in the lipid conformation of meibum from patients receiving HSCTs suggest that meibum composition changes after stem cell transplantation, and clinicians should consider treating the meibomian glands to improve the ocular surface.