• chemokines;
  • cytokines;
  • ocular surface;
  • tears

Acta Ophthalmol. 2010: 88: e250–e258


Purpose:  There is growing evidence for the existence of an ‘immune tone’ in normal tears. The aim of this study was to determine the levels of a large panel of cytokines and chemokines in tears obtained from healthy subjects. These levels can then serve as baseline values for comparison with patients suffering from ocular surface diseases.

Subjects and Methods:  Nine healthy subjects participated in this study, and normal ocular surface health was documented by the results of a dry eye questionnaire, Schirmer strip wetting, and vital staining of the cornea. Four microliters of tears were collected from each eye and analysed separately with multiplex bead-based assays for the concentration of 30 cytokines and chemokines.

Results:  Twenty-five cytokines/chemokines were detected. CCL11/Eotaxin1, GM-CSF, G-CSF, IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13, IL-12p70, IL-15, CX3CL1/Fractalkine, TNF-α, epidermal growth factor, and CCL4/MIP-1β were present at 5–100 pg/ml. IL-1β, IL-6, IL-7A, CXCL8/IL-8, and CCL2/MCP-1 were present at 100–400 pg/ml. IL-1Ra, CXCL10/IP-10 and vascular endothelial growth factor were present at more than 1000 pg/ml.

Conclusion:  Multiplex bead-based assays are convenient for cytokine/chemokine detection in tears. Fracktalkine has been detected in human healthy tears for the first time. The knowledge of cytokine/chemokine concentrations in tears from normal subjects is an important reference for further comparison with patients suffering from ocular surface diseases. Variability in their levels can reflect a phenomenon of potential importance for the understanding of the ocular surface cytokine pattern.