Purpose: To elucidate the correlation between lactoferrin concentration in the tear film and signs and symptoms of severe dry eye disease (DED) using a novel microfluidic paper-based analytical device (μPAD) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Methods: Twenty-four patients were recruited at the Keio University Hospital. Using a novel μPAD, lactoferrin concentrations were measured in 4 patients with GVHD-related DED, 3 patients with other types of DED and 2 controls (Group A). For validation by ELISA, 22 patients (7 patients from Group A) comprising 9 patients with GVHD-related DED, 6 patients with other types of DED and 7 controls were examined (Group B). The link between lactoferrin concentration and clinical data about the severity of aqueous tear deficient DED was also investigated by both μPAD and ELISA. Results: The lactoferrin concentration in tear fluid of the DED patients was positively correlated between μPAD and ELISA (p = 0.006, r = 0.886). The tear fluid of the GVHD patients showed low or undetectable lactoferrin concentration. Analysis by ELISA demonstrated that lactoferrin concentrations in the tear film from the GVHD patients were significantly lower than those from the non-GVHD patients (p = 0.010576). ELISA revealed lactoferrin concentration correlated with the value of Schirmer test and tear film breakup time, whereas it was inversely correlated with OSDI, fluorescein and rose bengal scores. Conclusions: The novel μPAD may pave the way for measuring lactoferrin concentration in tear fluid from DED patients. Our results suggested that lactoferrin concentration in tear fluid reflect the severity of DED.
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