Immunological and biochemical techniques in the analysis of tear proteins

  • Aisling M. Mann

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study is concerned with the analysis of tear proteins, paying particular attention to the state of the tears (e.g. non-stimulated, reflex, closed), created during sampling, and to assess their interactions with hydrogel contact lenses. The work has involved the use of a variety of biochemical and immunological analytical techniques for the measurement of proteins, (a), in tears, (b), on the contact lens, and (c), in the eluate of extracted lenses.
Although a diverse range of tear components may contribute to contact lens spoilation, proteins were of particular interest in this study because of their theoretical potential for producing immunological reactions. Although normal host proteins in their natural state are generally not treated as dangerous or non-self, those which undergo denaturation or suffer a conformational change may provoke an excessive and unnecessary immune response.
A novel on-lens cell based assay has been developed and exploited in order to study the role of the ubiquitous cell adhesion glycoprotein, vitronectin, in tears and contact lens wear under various parameters. Vitronectin, whose levels are known to increase in the closed eye environment and shown here to increase during contact lens wear, is an important immunoregulatory protein and may be a prominent marker of inflammatory activity.
Immunodiffusion assays were developed and optimised for use in tear analysis, and in a series of subsequent studies used for example in the measurement of albumin, lactoferrin, IgA and IgG. The immunodiffusion assays were then applied in the estimation of the closed eye environment; an environment which has been described as sustaining a state of sub-clinical inflammation. The role and presence of a lesser understood and investigated protein, kininogen, was also estimated, in particular, in relation to contact lens wear.
Difficulties arise when attempting to extract proteins from the contact lens in order to examine the individual nature of the proteins involved. These problems were partly alleviated with the use of the on-lens cell assay and a UV spectrophotometry assay, which can analyse the lens surface and bulk respectively, the latter yielding only total protein values. Various lens extraction methods were investigated to remove protein from the lens and the most efficient was employed in the analysis of lens extracts. Counter immunoelectrophoresis, an immunodiffusion assay, was then applied to the analysis of albumin, lactoferrin, IgA and IgG in the resultant eluates.
Date of AwardMay 1998
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBrian Tighe (Supervisor)


  • tear proteins
  • contact lens deposits
  • vitronectin
  • closed eye environment
  • immunodiffusion assays
  • inflammation
  • lens extracts

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