Purpose: The role of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in lacrimal gland (LG) function has only recently received some attention, mainly from our group. In the present study, we investigated the potential changes of LG pathology, tear secretion, ocular surface integrity, and fluid secretion in isolated LG ducts from CFTR knockout (KO) mice.
Methods: Tear production and ocular surface integrity were investigated in anesthetized wild-type (WT) and KO mice using cotton threads and fluorescein staining, respectively. Immunofluorescence was used to localize CFTR protein in the LGs. Ductal fluid secretions evoked by forskolin (10 μM); cell-permeable cAMP analogue (8-bromo cAMP, 100 μM); or carbachol (100 μM) were measured in isolated LG ducts using video-microscopy. Intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis underlying carbachol stimulation was investigated with microfluorometry.
Results: Significant decrease in tear secretion and impaired ocular surface integrity were observed in KO mice. Immunofluorescence demonstrated the predominant presence of CFTR protein in the apical membranes of the duct cells from WT mice. Continuous fluid secretion was evoked by forskolin and 8-bromo cAMP in LG ducts from WT mice, while no secretory response was observed in ducts from KO mice. Carbachol caused similar secretory responses in ducts from WT and KO animals without significant differences in cytosolic Ca2+ signaling.
Conclusions: Our results suggest the important role of CFTR in LG ductal secretion and in the maintenance of ocular surface integrity, suggesting that CFTR may be a promising target of novel therapeutic approaches in the treatment of dry eye.