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Comparative study of tear lipid composition in two human populations with different exposure to particulate matter in La Plata, Argentina


To identify the changes in the lipid profile of the tear film in two human populations exposed to different levels of particulate material, and its relationship with dry eye, by gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) detection. A panel study involving 78 volunteers, who live and work in two locations in Argentina with different pollution levels: urban zone (n = 44) and industrial zone (n = 34). We measured the mean levels of particulate matter (PM) exposure. The tear samples were analyze by gas GC-MS detection and the dry eye was diagnose using Schirmer test, fluorescein breakup time, vital staining with fluorescein and lissamine green, and lid parallel conjunctival folds (LIPCOF). Statistical analysis was performed using Chi-Square, Bartlett’s, Mann-Whitney tests, and Multiple Correspondence Analysis. PM10 level was significantly higher in industrial zone than in urban area (p < 0.05). Subjects exposed to higher levels of PM10 in outdoor air presented more presence of fatty acids (FA) of long chain, a higher proportion of saturated fatty acids (SFA), and lower unsaturated fatty acids (UFA), showing a differentiated profile, which may be associated with a PM level. The incidence of dry eye was greater in the industrial zone (p < 0.001), showing in both populations for this pathology higher FA ω-6 levels, which are responsible for the inflammation process. The lipid profile in populations exposed to higher levels of PM10, like the industrial zone, shows a differentiated profile of FA and more incidence of dry eye with higher FA ω-6 levels, which are responsible for the inflammation process.

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This study was financially supported by the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP), the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), and the Centro de Investigaciones Científicas (CIC).

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Correspondence to Jorge Esteban Colman Lerner.

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The research protocol was approved by the Comité Consultivo Central de Bioética (Central Advisory Committee on Bioethics) of the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (National University of La Plata), and all subjects gave their informed consent before registering for the study.

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Gutierrez, M.d.A., Colman Lerner, J.E., Giuliani, D.S. et al. Comparative study of tear lipid composition in two human populations with different exposure to particulate matter in La Plata, Argentina. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 6948–6956 (2019).

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  • PM
  • Lipid composition
  • Tears
  • Fatty acids
  • Dry eye
  • Environmental