|dc.description.abstract||Purpose: To compare densities of corneal epithelial dendritic cells (DCs), corneal subbasal nerves, and conjunctival epithelial immune cells (EICs) between patients with dry eye disease (DED) with and without graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) using in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM).
Methods: This study included 54 patients who had moderate to severe DED either associated with (n = 33) or without (n = 21) chronic GVHD. In addition to evaluating clinical parameters of DED, images obtained by laser-scanning IVCM of the central cornea and superior tarsal conjunctiva were analyzed to measure densities of corneal epithelial DCs, corneal subbasal nerves, and conjunctival EICs.
Results: Although there were no significant differences between GVHD and non-GVHD groups in symptom scores, the GVHD group had significantly worse corneal fluorescein staining, tear break-up time, and Schirmer's scores than the non-GVHD group. Corneal epithelial DC density, corneal subbasal nerve density, and conjunctival EIC density were 148 ± 135 cells/mm2, 16.3 ± 6.1 mm/mm2, and 670 ± 267 cells/mm2, respectively, in the GVHD group; and 122 ± 99 cells/mm2, 18.3 ± 5.1 mm/mm2, and 572 ± 271 cells/mm2, respectively, in the non-GVHD group. After adjusting for clinical parameters, including the DED severity, none of the IVCM parameters was significantly different between the GVHD versus non-GVHD groups (P = 0.82, P = 0.21, and P = 0.60, respectively).
Conclusions: In GVHD-associated DED, cellular changes in the cornea and conjunctiva observed by IVCM were similar to those seen in patients who have non-GVHD dry eye with the same level of disease severity. Therefore, corneal and conjunctival IVCM findings in GVHD-associated DED are possibly reflective of the local disease (DED) severity rather than the underlying systemic disease process.||en_US