Human tear film and meibum. Very long chain wax esters and (O-acyl)-omega-hydroxy fatty acids of meibum

Igor A. Butovich, Jadwiga C. Wojtowicz, Mike Molai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Human meibum was targetly analyzed for the presence of intact wax esters (WEs) and related compounds by means of reverse-phase HPLC in combination with ion trap mass spectrometry. The major detected WEs were based on C18:n (n = 1-4) unsaturated FAs ranking in the following order of abundance: C18:1> C18:2> C18:3> C18:4. The major fatty alcohols (FAls) found in WE were of saturated nature and varied from C18:0 to C28:0. The three most abundant species were C18:1-FA esters of C24:0, C25:0, and C26:0-FAl. Typically, a major compound based on C18:1-FA and a saturated FAl was accompanied by a few related compounds based on a C18:2, C18:3, and C18:4-FA. Contrary to previous reports, no epoxy-WEs or epoxy-FAs were detected in fresh and 1-year-old meibum samples. More than 20 (O-acyl)-ω-hydroxy-FAs (OAHFAs) were observed. The main detected OAHFAs were based on very long-chain ω-hydroxy-FA (C30:1, C32:1, and C34:1) acylated through their ω-hydroxyls by a C18:1-FA. Due to their amphiphilic anionogenic nature, OAHFAs may be responsible for stabilization of the tear fi lm lipid layer by creating an interface between the vast pool of strictly nonpolar lipids of meibum (WEs, cholesteryl esters, etc.) and the aqueous subphase beneath it, a role previously attributed to phospholipids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2471-2485
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Dry eye epoxides
  • High pressure liquid chromatography
  • Ion trap mass spectrometry
  • Lipids
  • Meibomian gland secretions
  • Tear film lipid laver
  • Tears
  • Very long-chain fatty acids and alcohols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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