Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology

, Volume 244, Issue 10, pp 1240–1245

Th1- and Th2-type cytokines in chronic ocular allergy


    • Department of NeuroscienceOphthalmology Unit
    • Department of Laboratory MedicineUniversity of Padua
  • Iva A. Fregona
    • Department of NeuroscienceOphthalmology Unit
  • Mario Plebani
    • Department of Laboratory MedicineUniversity of Padua
  • Antonio G. Secchi
    • Department of NeuroscienceOphthalmology Unit
  • Virginia L. Calder
    • Department of Clinical OphthalmologyInstitute of Ophthalmology, UCL
Clinical Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00417-006-0285-7

Cite this article as:
Leonardi, A., Fregona, I.A., Plebani, M. et al. Graefe's Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmo (2006) 244: 1240. doi:10.1007/s00417-006-0285-7



Previous reports have suggested that Th2-type cytokines are important in the pathogenesis of ocular allergic diseases. The purpose of this study is to measure levels and mRNA expression of Th1- and Th2-type cytokines in patients with active vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) and atopic keratoconjunctivitis (AKC).


Tear samples and tear-isolated cells were obtained from 9 healthy participants (CT—controls), 28 VKC, and 6 AKC patients. IL-4, IL-13, and interferon gamma (IFNγ) tear levels were determined by ELISA, and IL-4 and IFNγ tear cell mRNA expression by RT-PCR. Effects of these cytokines on IL-6 and IL-8 secretion, and on ICAM-1 expression by conjunctival fibroblasts, were evaluated by ELISA and flow cytometry respectively.


Interleukin-4 tear levels were increased in VKC and AKC compared with CT, but only IFNγ significantly correlated with corneal involvement. An IL-4/13-dominant profile was found in 50% of VKC and in 17% of AKC patients, while a IFNγ -dominant profile was found in 18% of VKC and in 17% of AKC patients. IL-4 and IFNγ transcripts were detected in tear cells from 11 out of 12 VKC patients. IFNγ upregulated expression of ICAM-1 on conjunctival fibroblasts and the secretion of IL-6 and IL-8.


Although both IL-4 and IFNγ are detected in tears, only IFNγ levels correlated with disease severity and upregulated ICAM-1 on conjunctival fibroblasts, suggesting the role of IFNγ in the inflammatory phase of chronic allergic eye diseases.


Allergic conjunctivitisTearsTh2 cytokinesInterferon-γ

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006