The number of patients with dry eye disease (DED) is increasing, and DED has become an urgent public health problem. A comorbidity of mental disorders has been reported in DED patients. We hypothesized that physical and psychological stressors impair tear secretion. To examine the relationship between stress loading and decreased tear secretion, we established a stress-induced DED mouse model, which permitted us to address the underlying mechanism of pathogenesis and resilience. Enriched environment (EE) was an effective intervention to prevent and alleviate stress-induced decreased tear secretion. Because stress loading resulted in decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression while EE resulted in increased expression, we focused on the role of BDNF in tear secretion. Using two distinct Bdnf gene knockdown mice, we evaluated whether BDNF was a deterministic factor in regulating tear secretion in healthy and stressed conditions. Bdnf knockdown mice showed decreased basal tear secretion and loss of stress tolerance by EE for tear secretion. These results suggest that BDNF expression is related to tear secretion and to the pathology of DED.
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