Trehalose in ophthalmology

Histol Histopathol. 2019 Jun;34(6):611-618. doi: 10.14670/HH-18-082. Epub 2019 Jan 9.


Trehalose, a disaccharide of glucose, is a naturally occurring nontoxic and nonreducing bioactive sugar. Trehalose is synthetized by many organisms when cells are exposed to stressful conditions, including dehydration, heat, oxidation, hypoxia or even anoxia. Although trehalose is not synthesized by mammalian cells, it has recently been demonstrated to have a number of important properties that indicate its utility in humans. Trehalose enables wound healing by protecting cells, especially cell membranes, from oxidative injury and dessication. When the injured cornea is treated with trehalose, corneal inflammation, scar formation and corneal neovascularization are suppressed. In dry eye disease, trehalose decreased cell apoptosis and reduced oxidative, inflammatory and proteolytic activity at the ocular surface. In UVB irradiated cornea, trehalose suppressed photodamage evoked by UVB rays. It decreased the intracorneal inflammation and reduced corneal neovascularization. Trehalose prevented postoperative fibrous scar formation after ocular surgery, such as glaucoma filtration surgery. The non-toxicity of trehalose allows its administration in humans for extended periods and enables its use in various disease states.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cornea / drug effects*
  • Cornea / radiation effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmology
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Rabbits
  • Trehalose / chemistry
  • Trehalose / pharmacology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Wound Healing*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Trehalose