PloS one

Preclinical mouse model to monitor live Muc5b-producing conjunctival goblet cell density under pharmacological treatments.

PMID 28355261


Modification of mucous cell density and gel-forming mucin production are established hallmarks of mucosal diseases. Our aim was to develop and validate a mouse model to study live goblet cell density in pathological situations and under pharmacological treatments. We created a reporter mouse for the gel-forming mucin gene Muc5b. Muc5b-positive goblet cells were studied in the eye conjunctiva by immunohistochemistry and probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) in living mice. Dry eye syndrome (DES) model was induced by topical application of benzalkonium chloride (BAK) and recombinant interleukine (rIL) 13 was administered to reverse the goblet cell loss in the DES model. Almost 50% of the total of conjunctival goblet cells are Muc5b+ in unchallenged mice. The decrease density of Muc5b+ conjunctival goblet cell population in the DES model reflects the whole conjunctival goblet cell loss. Ten days of BAK in one eye followed by 4 days without any treatment induced a -18.3% decrease in conjunctival goblet cell density. A four days of rIL13 application in the DES model restored the normal goblet cell density. Muc5b is a biological marker of DES mouse models. We bring the proof of concept that our model is unique and allows a better understanding of the mechanisms that regulate gel-forming mucin production/secretion and mucous cell differentiation in the conjunctiva of living mice and can be used to test treatment compounds in mucosal disease models.

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Benzalkonium chloride, BioXtra