PURPOSE: Anterior blepharitis is a frequent ocular condition which may result in severe ocular surface disease. In this study, advanced proteome analysis was performed to elucidate biological mechanisms underlying anterior blepharitis.
METHODS: All patients underwent full ophthalmological examination including Ocular Surface Disease Index score (OSDI). Measurement of non-invasive break-up time (NBUT), Oxford score, and meibography were performed. Tear film samples from treatment naïve patients with anterior blepharitis (n = 15) and age-matched controls (n = 11) were collected with Schirmer filtration paper. The samples were analyzed with label-free quantification nano liquid chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry (LFQ nLC-MS/MS). Significantly regulated proteins were identified with a permutation-based calculation with a false discovery rate at 0.05.
RESULTS: Among the 927 proteins detected, a total of 162 proteins were significantly changed. Regulated proteins were involved in cytoplasmic translation, positive regulation of B cell activation, complement activation and phagocytosis. High levels of plakin proteins, a group of proteins involved in cytoskeleton organization, were observed in anterior blepharitis, including plectin, desmoplakin, envoplakin, epiplakin, periplakin, and vimentin. The upregulation of plectin was confirmed with single reaction monitoring. Patients with anterior blepharitis had lower levels of immunoglobulin chains, VEGF coregulated chemokine 1 (CXCL17), and platelet-derived growth factor C.
CONCLUSIONS: Anterior blepharitis was associated with a high level of plectin indicating a pronounced intracellular response with cytoskeletal reorganization. Our data suggest a lack of immunoglobulin chains and CXCL17 in anterior blepharitis with potential alterations in the ocular surface immune response.