Acidic mammalian chitinase in dry eye conditions

Cornea. 2009 Jul;28(6):667-72. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31819bc308.


Purpose: An acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) seems to be implicated in allergic asthma and allergic ocular pathologies. The aim of this work was to investigate the role of AMCase during Sjögren's Syndrome (SS) and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) dry eye diseases.

Methods: Six patients with MGD dry eye (20-58 years, median 40) and six patients with dry eye associated to SS (32-60 years, median 47) were enrolled in this study. AMCase activity was measured in tears and AMCase mRNA expression was evaluated by real-time polymerase chain reaction from RNA extracted from epithelial cells of the conjunctiva. Six healthy adult subjects of the same age (34-44 years, median 39) were also studied as the control group.

Results: AMCase activity was significantly increased in patients affected by MGD dry eye (18.54 +/- 1.5 nmol/ml/h) and SS dry eye (8.94 +/- 1.0 nmol/ml/h) respectively, compared to healthy controls (1.6 +/- 0.2 nmol/ml/h). AMCase activity was higher in the tears of subjects with MGD dry eye (P < 0.001). AMCase mRNA was detected in conjunctival epithelial cells and the expression was significantly higher in MGD dry eye than SS dry eye. A significant correlation between AMCase activity in the tears and mRNA in conjunctival epithelial cells was found.

Conclusion: AMCase may be an important marker in the pathogenesis of dry eye, suggesting the potential role of AMCase as a therapeutic target in these frequent pathologies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Chitinases / genetics
  • Chitinases / metabolism*
  • Conjunctiva / enzymology
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology
  • Eyelid Diseases / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meibomian Glands*
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / complications*
  • Tears / enzymology
  • Xerophthalmia / enzymology*
  • Xerophthalmia / etiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • RNA, Messenger
  • CHIA protein, human
  • Chitinases