Investigating ocular allergy: can we determine a better measurement?

J.S. Wolffsohn, S.A. Naroo, P.S. Bilkhu, R. Kennedy, L.A. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstractpeer-review


Objective: Ocular allergy is a broad group of allergic conditions involving inflammation of the conjunctiva and the most common forms are seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC; 90% of cases) and perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC; 5% of cases). The main symptom is ocular itching caused by mast cell degranulation leading to the release of histamine and other mediators such as tryptase. Tryptase is a neutral protease that is selectively concentrated in the secretory granules of human mast cells and has been shown to be a sensitive and specific marker of type I hypersensitivity reaction. The objective was to ascertain the best assay method for determining the tryptase levels in tear samples and whether this can be used to determine the efficacy of non-pharmacological treatments compared to no treatment or their combined effect with anti-allergic medication for SAC and PAC.
Method: Thirty patients with a history of SAC were recruited into a randomised blind study during winter months when all the patients were asymptomatic. Suitability was determined by skin prick and conjunctival provocation tests. Patients were randomly assigned to either a non-pharmacological or a pharmacological Intervention group and received each test condition assigned to their group in a randomly assigned order. Symptoms were provoked by exposure to pollen in an environmental test chamber where the temperature, humidity and grass pollen levels were set to a high pollen count day. Tear samples were taken set intervals during the visit and then processed by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the detection of tryptase levels.
Preliminary results: Results are still being analysed but the preliminary optimisation experiments tested four different ELISA systems; two indirect assays and two capture ‹sandwich› assays. The results suggest that in both sandwich assay systems non-specific binding occurred which could not be easily overcome. The indirect assay systems both showed specific reactions, and the sensitivity achieved was greater with the monoclonal than the polyclonal antibody. Using these findings the indirect assay system was optimised to provide a standardised system for measuring tryptase. Initial trials using human tear samples displayed tryptase levels between 23.1 and 175.1 ng/ml; levels which fall within the anticipated range for patients with SAC. Further statistical work is needed to determine whether tryptase levels vary between the treatments 75.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP.21
Pages (from-to)1441
Number of pages1
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number12
Early online date22 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
EventBritish Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology annual meeting - Telford, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jul 201310 Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology Abstracts of the 2013 Annual Meeting, Telford (UK), 8 -10 July 2013


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