PURPOSE. To investigate the status of oxidative stress and histopathologic alterations in patients with conjunctivochalasis and compare the findings with those in healthy control subjects. METHODS. Eleven patients (n = 20 eyes) with Yokoi grade 3 conjunctivochalasis and 11 health control subjects (n = 22 eyes) were prospectively recruited. ELISA for tear hexanoyllysine (HEL) and inflammatory cytokines, tear film break-up time tests, Schirmer test measurements, and fluorescein and rose bengal vital staining were performed. Conjunctival specimens obtained during surgery for conjunctivochalasis and cataract underwent immunohistochemical staining for HEL+8- OHdG, MMP-3, and MMP-9, and positively stained cells were counted. Transmission electron microscopy was also performed, with staining for elastic fibers in the conjunctival stroma. RESULTS. The mean tear stability and vital staining scores were significantly worse in the conjunctivochalasis patients than in the control subjects. The tear HEL and tear cytokine levels showed significantly higher values in eyes with conjunctivochalasis. IL-1β and IL-6 levels showed a significant correlation with corneal epithelial damage. IL-1β and TNFα showed a significant correlation with 8-OHdG-stained cell counts. Specimens from patients with conjunctivochalasis revealed a significantly higher number of cells positively stained for HEL, 8-OHdG, MMP-3, and MMP-9 than did specimens from age- and sex-matched control subjects. Transmission electron microscopy showed decreased intercellular cohesiveness, with the conjunctival stroma showing an accumulation of elastic fibers. CONCLUSIONS. Lipid and DNA oxidative stress were present in the conjunctiva. Increased tear inflammation seemed to coexist with loss of conjunctival epithelial cohesiveness and increased collagenolytic activity, which may explain the conjunctival laxity observed in patients with conjunctivochalasis.
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