Evidence suggests that the cytokine interferon (IFN)-γ released by natural killer and CD4(+) T cells contributes to the conjunctival goblet cell (GC) loss in dry eye. The purpose of this study was to investigate if topical neutralization of IFN-γ prevents or alleviates GC loss in an experimental desiccating stress (DS) model of dry eye. In this study, we found that topical IFN-γ neutralization significantly decreased DS-induced conjunctival GC loss. This was accompanied by decreased epithelial apoptosis, and increased IL-13 and decreased FoxA2 expression in the forniceal conjunctiva. To establish that IFN-γ produced by pathogenic CD4(+) T cells contributes to DS-induced GC loss, adoptive transfer of CD4(+) T cells isolated from DS exposed donors to naïve RAG-1(-/-) recipient mice was performed. Similar to the donor mice, topical IFN-γ neutralization decreased conjunctival GC loss, suppressed apoptosis and increased IL-13 expression in adoptive transfer recipients. In summary, this study demonstrated that topical neutralization of IFN-γ prevents GC loss via modulating apoptosis and maintaining IL-13 signaling.
Keywords: FOXA2; GC; IFN-γ; IL-13; KCS; MUC5AC; apoptosis; dry eye; gel forming mucin secreted by goblet cells; goblet cell; interferon gamma, a cytokine produced by natural killer (NK) and CD4(+) T cells; keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
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