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Tear protein analysis in patients with primary acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction treated with lacrimal passage intubation

  • Clinical Investigation
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The pathophysiology of nasolacrimal duct obstruction (NLDO) may involve quantitative as well as qualitative changes in tears. We measured tear protein concentrations in patients with primary acquired NLDO and compared them with the tear proteins in healthy individuals and patients with dry eye disease.

Study Design

Case–control study.


Twenty-four patients diagnosed with primary acquired NLDO who underwent endoscopic lacrimal passage intubation were included in the study. Tear fluid was collected with Schirmer’s test strips three times: before intubation, after intubation while the nasolacrimal tube was in place, and after extubation. At the same time, 24 age-matched normal controls and 24 patients with dry eye were selected from subjects whose tears were collected during the same study period. We measured the following components of tear fluid: total protein, lactoferrin, albumin, and interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels.


Total proteins and albumin levels in tears of the NLDO group were significantly lower than those of the control group (P < 0.001 and P = 0.014, respectively, Mann–Whitney U test). Total proteins, albumin, and lactoferrin levels were significantly increased after extubation of nasolacrimal tube (P < 0.001, P = 0.004, and P = 0.029, respectively, Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-rank test). There were no statistically significant differences in total protein, albumin, lactoferrin and IL-6 levels between patients with NLDO after lacrimal passage extubation and controls.


Our study shows distinct differences in protein composition of tear fluid in NLDO eyes and demonstrates that these can be normalized by nasolacrimal tube placement.

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This study was supported by a grant (19FA1010) from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan.

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Correspondence to Masakazu Yamada.

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S. Yaginuma, None; K. Konno, Lecture fee (Santen, Otsuka); C. Shigeyasu, Lecture fee (Santen, Otsuka); M. Yamada, Lecture fee (Santen, Senju, Otsuka, Johnson & Johnson).

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Corresponding Author: Masakazu Yamada

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Yaginuma, S., Konno, K., Shigeyasu, C. et al. Tear protein analysis in patients with primary acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction treated with lacrimal passage intubation. Jpn J Ophthalmol 65, 409–415 (2021).

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