Objectives: To compare conjunctival goblet cell numbers as well as epithelial turnover in patients with non-Sjögren syndrome--associated keratoconjunctivitis sicca (NSS-KCS) and those with SS-KCS before and after 6 months of treatment with topical cyclosporine A (CsA) ophthalmic emulsion.
Methods: Conjunctival biopsy specimens from 16 patients with NSS-KCS and 12 with SS-KCS were obtained at baseline and after 6 months' therapy with CsA or vehicle alone. Conjunctival biopsy specimens were also obtained from 11 normal subjects. Periodic acid--Schiff staining determined the number of goblet cells present. Immunofluorescence microscopy for Ki-67 localization was used to evaluate the number of actively cycling cells.
Results: Periodic acid--Schiff staining showed fewer goblet cells at baseline in both dry eye populations when compared with normal subjects (P<.001). After 6 months of CsA treatment, conjunctival biopsy specimens of both NSS-KCS and SS-KCS groups revealed an increase in goblet cells compared with baseline (P<.05). More Ki-67--positive cells were observed in NSS-KCS conjunctiva at baseline than in normal conjunctiva (P<.05) whereas numbers of these cells in SS-KCS conjunctiva were similar to normal at baseline. After 6 months of CsA treatment, conjunctival biopsy specimens of NSS-KCS revealed a decrease in Ki-67--labeled cells compared with baseline (P<.001). In contrast, no substantial change was observed for CsA treatment in patients with SS-KCS.
Conclusions: Treatment of dry eye syndrome for 6 months with topical CsA resulted in an increase in goblet cell numbers in patients with NSS-KCS and SS-KCS and a decrease in epithelial turnover in those with NSS-KCS. Reducing ocular surface inflammation might have an effect on the proliferative activity of the epithelium.