Expression-of-IL-8Abstract: Corneal infections are frequent and potentially vision-threatening diseases, and despite the significance of the immunological response in animal models of microbial keratitis (MK), it remains unclear in humans. The aim of this study was to describe the cytokine profile of tears in patients with MK. Characteristics of ocular lesions such as size of the epithelial defect, stromal infiltration, and hypopyon were analyzed. Immunological evaluation included determination of interleukine (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in tear samples obtained from infected eyes of 28 patients with MK and compared with their contralateral non-infected eyes. Additionally, frequency of CD4+, CD8+, CD19+ and CD3CD56+ cells was also determined in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in patients with MK, and compared with 48 healthy controls. Non-significant differences were observed in the size of the epithelial defect, stromal infiltration, and hypopyon. Nevertheless, we found an immunological profile apparently related to MK etiology. IL-8 > IL-6 in patients with bacterial keratitis; IL-8 > IL-6 > IL-1β and increased frequency of circulating CD3CD56+ NK cells in patients with gram-negative keratitis; and IL-8 = IL-6 > IL-1β in patients with fungal keratitis. Characterization of tear cytokines from patients with MK could aid our understanding of the immune pathophysiological mechanisms underlying corneal damage in humans.

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