Changes to tear cytokines of type 2 diabetic patients with or without retinopathy

Jingfang Liu, Bingyin Shi, Shuixiang He, Xiaoli Yao, Mark D P Willcox, Zhenjun Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To investigate changes in cytokine levels in tears of type 2 diabetics with or without retinopathy. Methods: Tears were collected from 15 type 2 diabetics without retinopathy (DNR), 15 patients with retinopathy (DR), and 15 age and gender matched non-diabetic controls. Tear concentrations of 27 cytokines were measured by multiplex bead immunoassay. Cytokine differences between groups, ratios of type-1 T helper (Th1)/type-2 T helper (Th2) cytokines and anti-angiogenic/pro-angiogenic cytokines were analyzed statistically. Results: The most abundant cytokine detected in tears was interferon-induced protein-10 (IP-10). In comparison with controls, IP-10 and monocyte chemoattracant protein-1 (MCP-1) levels were significantly elevated in DR (p=0.016 and 0.036, respectively) and DNR groups (p=0.021 and 0.026, respectively). Interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) levels were significantly increased in DNR (p=0.016). Th1/Th2 cytokines interferon-gamma (IFN-γ)/IL-5 and IL-2/IL-5 ratios were significantly increased in DR compared to controls (p=0.037 and 0.031, respectively). Anti-angiogenic/angiogenic cytokines IFN-γ/MCP-1 and IL-4/MCP-1 ratios in DR and DNR were significantly decreased compared to controls (p<0.05). IL-4/IL-8 and IL-12p70/IL-8 ratios were also significantly decreased in DR compared to controls (p=0.02 and 0.045, respectively). No significant correlation was demonstrated between tear cytokine concentrations and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) or fasting plasma glucose (FPG). Conclusions: Diabetic tears exhibited elevated levels of IP-10 and MCP-1. The Th1/Th2 cytokine balance may shift to a predominantly Th1 state in DR patients. Pro-angiogenic cytokines are more highly represented than anti-angiogenic cytokines in the tears of diabetic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2931-2938
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Vision
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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