Adsorption of human tear lipocalin to human Meibomian lipid films

Thomas J. Millar, Poonam Mudgil, Igor A. Butovich, Chendur K. Palaniappan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Tear lipocalin (Tlc) is a major lipid binding protein in tears and is thought to have an important role in stabilizing the Meibomian lipid layer by transferring lipids to it from the aqueous layer or ocular surface, or by adsorbing to it directly. These possible roles have been investigated in vitro using human Tlc. METHODS. Tlc was purified from human tears by size exclusion chromatography followed by ion exchange chromatography. Three additional samples of the Tlc were prepared by lipidation, delipidation, and relipidation. The lipids extracted from the purified Tlc were analyzed by HPLC-MS followed by fragmentation. Adsorption of these different forms of Tlc to a human Meibomian lipid film spread on the surface of an artificial tear buffer in a Langmuir trough were observed by recording changes in the pressure with time (Π-T profile) and monitoring the appearance of the film microscopically. These results were compared with similar experiments using a bovine Meibomian lipid film. RESULTS. The results indicated that Tlc binds slowly to a human Meibomian lipid film compared with lysozyme or lactoferrin, even at 37° C. The adsorption of Tlc to a human Meibomian lipid film was very different from its adsorption to a bovine Meibomian lipid film, indicating the nature of the lipids in the film is critical to the adsorption process. Similarly, the different forms of Tlc had quite distinct adsorption patterns, as indicated both by changes in Π-T profiles and the microscopic appearance of the films. CONCLUSIONS. It was concluded that human Tlc was capable of adsorbing to and penetrating into a Meibomian lipid layer, but this process is very complex and depends on both the types of lipids bound to Tlc and the lipid complement comprising the Meibomian lipid film.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-151
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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