Precise longitudinal monitoring of corneal change through in vivo confocal microscopy in a rat dry eye disease model

Minjie Chen, Stefanie Seo, Xianni Simmons, Youssef Maroud, Trystin Wong, William Schubert, Samuel C. Yiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: While lacrimal gland removal is commonly used in animal models to replicate dry eye disease, research into systematically monitoring dry eye disease’s longitudinal pathological changes is limited. In vivo confocal microscopy (Heidelberg Retina Tomograph 3 with a Rostock Cornea Module, Heidelberg Engineering Inc., Franklin, MA) can noninvasively reveal corneal histopathological structures. To monitor dry-eye-disease-related changes in corneal structures, we developed a precise monitoring method using in vivo confocal microscopy in a rat double lacrimal gland removal model. Methods: Five Sprague-Dawley rats (age 8–9 weeks, male) underwent double lacrimal gland removal. Modified Schirmer’s tear test, blink tests, and in vivo confocal microscopy images were acquired pre-surgery and at 1, 2, and 4 weeks post-surgery. Three individual stromal nerves were selected per eye as guide images, and images of the corresponding sub-basal nerve plexus area were acquired via volume acquisition. The same area was re-imaged in subsequent weeks. Results: After double lacrimal gland removal, tear production was reduced by 60%, and the blink rate increased 10 times compared to pre-surgery. Starting from 1 week after surgery, in vivo confocal microscopy showed increased sub-basal nerve plexus nerve fiber density with inflammatory cell infiltration at the sub-basal nerve plexus layer and remained at an elevated level at 2 and 4 weeks post-surgery. Conclusions: We demonstrated that our precise monitoring method revealed detailed changes in the corneal nerves, the epithelium, and the stroma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-159
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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