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Biochimica et biophysica acta

Biophysical investigations of the structure and function of the tear fluid lipid layer and the effect of ectoine. Part A: natural meibomian lipid films.


PMID 24841755

Abstract

The tear fluid lipid layer is the outermost part of the tear film on the ocular surface which protects the eye from inflammations and injuries. We investigated the influence of ectoine on the structural organization of natural meibomian lipid films using surface activity analysis and topographical studies. These films exhibit a continuous pressure-area isotherm without any phase transition. With the addition of ectoine, the isotherm is expanded towards higher area per molecule values suggesting an increased area occupied by the interfacial lipid molecules. The AFM topology scans of natural meibomian lipid films reveal a presence of fiber-like structures. The addition of ectoine causes an appearance of droplet-like structures which are hypothesized to be tri-acyl-glycerols and other hydrophobic components excluded from the lipid film. Further the material properties of the droplet-like structure with respect to the surrounding were determined by using the quantitative imaging mode of the AFM technique. The droplet-like structures were found to be comparatively softer than the surrounding. Based on the observations a preliminary hypothesis is proposed explaining the mechanism of action of ectoine leading to the fluidization of meibomian lipid films. This suggests the possibility of ectoine as a treatment for the dry eye syndrome.

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