Aim: The effects of the administration of three tear substitutes on normal conjunctival epithelium of the mouse, with particular regard to goblet cells, were studied.
Methods: Three-month-old Swiss CD 1 mice were divided into four groups of 7 animals each. Group 1 was untreated (control). The other animals were treated with the instillation of 5 drops/day for 10 days as follows: group 2, 0.2% sodium hyaluronate (SH); group 3, 0.5% hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC); group 4, 0.9% NaCl. The entire conjunctiva was processed for light and electron microscopy. A morphometric study was performed to evaluate: the number and size of goblet cells and the number, size and optical density of mucin granules. Furthermore, Alcian blue/periodic acid-Schiff (AB/PAS) staining for goblet cells was carried out.
Results: The SH-treated group showed that the area and number of goblet cells were similar to the untreated group; the mucin granules were reduced in number and optical density but increased in size. The HPMC-treated group showed a reduced area of goblet cells with reduced optical density of mucin granules. The saline-treated group showed that goblet cells were reduced in area and number; mucin granules showed a reduction in number and optical density and an increased size. The AB/PAS stain showed that each treatment was able to induce a treatment-specific modification of the staining characteristics of goblet cells.
Conclusion: Our results strongly suggest that tear substitutes can induce treatment-specific modifications of the conjunctival epithelium with particular regard to goblet cell structure and ultrastructure.
(c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.