Objective: To study the efficacy of topical application of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA) for dry eye treatment.
Methods: Formulations containing ALA, LA, combined ALA and LA, or vehicle alone, were applied to dry eyes induced in mice. Corneal fluorescein staining and the number and maturation of corneal CD11b(+) cells were determined by a masked observer in the different treatment groups. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify expression of inflammatory cytokines in the cornea and conjunctiva.
Results: Dry eye induction significantly increased corneal fluorescein staining; CD11b(+) cell number and major histocompatibility complex Class II expression; corneal IL-1alpha and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) expression; and conjunctival IL-1alpha, TNF-alpha, interferon gamma, IL-2, IL-6, and IL-10 expression. Treatment with ALA significantly decreased corneal fluorescein staining compared with both vehicle and untreated controls. Additionally, ALA treatment was associated with a significant decrease in CD11b(+) cell number, expression of corneal IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha, and conjunctival TNF-alpha.
Conclusions: Topical ALA treatment led to a significant decrease in dry eye signs and inflammatory changes at both cellular and molecular levels.
Clinical relevance: Topical application of ALA omega-3 fatty acid may be a novel therapy to treat the clinical signs and inflammatory changes accompanying dry eye syndrome.