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Aging of the Lachrymal Gland

  • Hiroto Obata
Part of the Aging Medicine book series (AGME)

Abstract

The lachrymal gland is an appendage of the ocular surface that secretes tear fluid consisting of water, proteins, and electrolytes, which helps to maintain the cells of the ocular surface. The lachrymal gland and ocular surface form a mucosal immune system, and both are affected by environmental factors. The quality and quantity of tear fluid decreases with age, and dry eye is one of most common problems in elderly patients visiting ophthalmologists. The lachrymal gland is innervated by the autonomic nervous system and the secretory function is very complicated. Few previous studies have examined the aging mechanisms of the lachrymal gland. Histopathological studies of the human lachrymal gland have demonstrated that acinar atrophy, periacinar fibrosis, and periductal fibrosis increase with age. Animal studies have shown that morphological changes, reduced lachrymal secretion of protein, decreased density of innervation, and increased number of inflammatory cells in the lachrymal glands occur with aging. Generally, inflammation and neural dysfunction might be involved in the pathogenesis of age-related lachrymal gland dysfunction, but the mechanisms linking lachrymal gland dysfunction with aging remain unclear.

Keywords

lachrymal gland aging dry eye tear fluid secretion atrophy fibrosis inflammation neural dysfunction 

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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroto Obata
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyJichi Medical UniversityTochigiJapan

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