Pathogenesis of Keratoconus: The intriguing therapeutic potential of Prolactin-inducible protein

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2018 Nov;67:150-167. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2018.05.002. Epub 2018 Jul 13.


Keratoconus (KC) is the most common ectatic corneal disease, with clinical findings that include discomfort, visual disturbance and possible blindness if left untreated. KC affects approximately 1:400 to 1:2000 people worldwide, including both males and females. The aetiology and onset of KC remains a puzzle and as a result, the ability to treat or reverse the disease is hampered. Sex hormones are known to play a role in the maintenance of the structure and integrity of the human cornea. Hormone levels have been reported to alter corneal thickness, curvature, and sensitivity during different times of menstrual cycle. Surprisingly, the role of sex hormones in corneal diseases and KC has been largely neglected. Prolactin-induced protein, known to be regulated by sex hormones, is a new KC biomarker that has been recently proposed. Studies herein discuss the role of sex hormones as a control mechanism for KC onset and progression and evidence supporting the view that prolactin-induced protein is an important hormonally regulated biomarker in KC is discussed.

Keywords: Bodily fluids; Human cornea; Keratoconus; Prolactin-induced protein; Sex hormones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cornea / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Keratoconus / diagnosis*
  • Keratoconus / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Models, Biological


  • Biomarkers
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • PIP protein, human