Tear Fluid Protein Biomarkers

Jingjing You, Mark D. Willcox, Michele C. Madigan, Valerie Wasinger, Belinda Schiller, Bradley J. Walsh, Peter H. Graham, John H. Kearsley, Yong Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


The tear film covers and protects the ocular surface. It contains various molecules including a large variety of proteins. The protein composition of the tear fluid can change with respect to various local and systemic diseases. Prior to the advent of the proteomic era, tear protein analysis was limited to a few analytical techniques, the most common of which was immunoelectrophoresis, an approach dependent on antibody availability. Using proteomics, hundreds of tear proteins could potentially be identified and subsequently studied. Although detection of low-abundance proteins in the complex tear proteome remains a challenge, advances in sample fractionation and mass spectrometry have greatly enhanced our ability to detect these proteins. With increasing proteomic applications, tears show great potential as biomarkers in the development of clinical assays for various human diseases.In this chapter, we discuss the structure and functions of the tear film and methods for its collection. We also summarize potential tear protein biomarkers identified using proteomic techniques for both ocular and systemic diseases. Finally, modern proteomic techniques for tear biomarker research and future challenges are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-196
Number of pages46
JournalAdvances in Clinical Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Proteomics
  • Tears

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