Effect of pro-inflammatory mediators on membrane-associated mucins expressed by human ocular surface epithelial cells

Ann Christin Albertsmeyer, Vinodh Kakkassery, Sandra Spurr-Michaud, Olivia Beeks, Ilene K. Gipson*

*Corresponding author for this work
65 Citations (Scopus)


Membrane-associated mucins are altered on the ocular surface in non-Sjögren's dry eye. This study sought to determine if inflammatory mediators, present in tears of dry eye patients, regulate membrane-associated mucins MUC1 and -16 at the level of gene expression, protein biosynthesis and/or ectodomain release. A human corneal limbal epithelial cell line (HCLE), which produces membrane-associated mucins, was used. Cells were treated with interleukin (IL)-6, -8, or -17, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), or a combination of TNF-α and IFN-γ, or IFN-γ and IL-17, for 1, 6, 24, or 48 h. Presence of receptors for these mediators was verified by RT-PCR. Effects of the cytokines on expression levels of MUC1 and -16 were determined by real-time PCR, and on mucin protein biosynthesis and ectodomain release in cell lysates and culture media, respectively, by immunoblot analysis. TNF-α and IFN-γ each significantly induced MUC1 expression, cellular protein content and ectodomain release over time. Combined treatment with the two cytokines was not additive. By comparison, one of the inflammatory mediators, IFN-γ, affected all three parameters-gene expression, cellular protein, and ectodomain release-for MUC16. Combined treatment with TNF-α and IFN-γ showed effects similar to IFN-γ alone, except that ectodomain release followed that of TNF-α, which induced MUC16 ectodomain release. In conclusion, inflammatory mediators present in tears of dry eye patients can affect MUC1 and -16 on corneal epithelial cells and may be responsible for alterations of surface mucins in dry eye.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)444-451
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 03.2010

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)


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