Impression cytology of the conjunctival epithelial cells in patients with cystic fibrosis

Eye (Lond). 2008 Sep;22(9):1137-40. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6702867. Epub 2007 May 25.


Purpose: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most frequent lethal autosomal recessive hereditary disorder. The disease affects all secretory epithelia, including the eye, and belongs to the group of ocular surface epithelial diseases, termed keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eye syndrome. The aim of this study was to evaluate goblet cell population and conjunctival epithelial morphology in patients with CF.

Methods: A total of 20 CF patients and 20 controls underwent conjunctival impression cytology.

Results: Impression cytology showed conjunctival squamous metaplasia and goblet cell loss in patients with CF.

Conclusion: Reduced goblet cell numbers and squamous metaplasia may be indicative of a higher degree of epithelial damage of conjunctival epithelial cells in CF patients, and the presence of neutrophils is a strong sign for an inflammatory background of this disease.In view of the simple, noninvasive nature of impression cytology, this technique may prove to be an important tool for the diagnosis and monitoring of dry eye changes in CF patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Count
  • Child
  • Conjunctiva / pathology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / pathology
  • Female
  • Goblet Cells / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metaplasia / pathology
  • Young Adult