Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a common ophthalmological disease that decreases tear secretion and causes dryness, photophobia, pain, severe corneal rupture, and even blindness. Ocular and lacrimal gland inflammation is one of the pathological mechanisms underlying DES. Therefore, effective suppression of inflammation is a crucial strategy for the treatment of DES. Lutein, commonly found in healthy foods, has anti-inflammatory effects in corneal or retina-related cells and may be a potential therapy for DES. The addition of lutein to artificial tears (AT) as an eye-drop formulation for DES treatment in a mouse model was studied in the present work. Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) was used as a thickener to increase the viscosity of eye drops to prolong drug retention on the ocular surface. A WST-8 assay in human corneal epithelial cells (HCE-2) showed that a concentration of <5 μM lutein (L5) and <1% PVA (P1) maintained the cell viability at 80%. A real-time PCR showed that the inflamed human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs) cocultured with L5P1 had downregulated expression of inflammatory genes such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α. In a benzalkonium chloride- (BAC) induced DES mouse model, AT/L5P1 could repair damaged corneas, elevate tear secretion, increase the number of goblet cells, and inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, in the cornea. In conclusion, we demonstrate that lutein/PVA as eye drops could prolong the drug ocular retention time and effectively to decrease inflammation in DES mice. Therefore, lutein, obtained from eye drops, has a potential therapeutic role for DES.
Keywords: anti-inflammation; dry eye syndrome; eye drops; lutein; polyvinyl alcohol.