Glycomic characterization of basal tears and changes with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy

Terry Nguyen-Khuong, Arun V. Everest-Dass, Liisa Kautto, Zhenjun Zhao, Mark D P Willcox, Nicolle H. Packer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    As a secreted fluid, the state of tear glycosylation is particularly important in the role of immunity of the ocular surface. Tears are a valuable source of non-invasive biomarkers for disease and there are continued efforts to characterize their components thoroughly. In this study, a small volume of basal tears (5 μL) was collected from healthy controls, patients with diabetes without retinopathy and patients with diabetes and retinopathy. The detailed N- and O-linked tear protein glycome was characterized and the relative abundance of each structure determined. Of the 50 N-linked glycans found, 89% were complex with 50% containing a bisecting N-acetylglucosamine, 65% containing a core fucose whilst 33% were sialylated. Of the 8 O-linked glycans detected, 3 were of cores 1 and 5 of core 2 type, with a majority of them being sialylated (90%). Additionally, these glycan structures were profiled across the three diabetic disease groups. Whilst the higher abundant structures did not alter across the three groups, only five low abundance N-linked glycans and 1 O-linked glycan did alter with the onset of diabetes mellitus and diabetic retinopathy (DR). These results suggest the conservation of glycan types on basal tear proteins between individuals and point to only small changes in glycan expression on the proteins in tears with the development of diabetes and DR.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)269-283
    Number of pages15
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


    • basal tears
    • diabetes
    • diabetic retinopathy
    • glycomics
    • tear film


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