Dry eye disease is a common chronic multifactorial condition of the ocular surface which results in failure to produce sufficient amounts of moisture in the eye. As a result of dry eye, patients often experience eye irritation and blurred vision. As cures are sought, innovative treatments are introduced. Goblet cell density is used to track the effects of certain treatments in dry eye, as goblet cells are very responsive to the environment and inflammation. The secretion of mucus by goblet cells protects the ocular epithelium where they are found, thus more goblet cells are found in healthy eyes.
Increasing evidence has shown that gut microbes are important in regulating the immune system and bodily processes beyond the intestine. Previous research in this lab has shown that patients with Sjögren Syndrome (SS) have intestinal dysbiosis. Furthermore, germ-free (GF) mice have ocular barrier disruption with more infiltration of inflammatory cells and more importantly, decreased goblet cell numbers in the conjunctiva. Thus, this project explores the analysis of goblet cell count in female GF mice given various treatments of fecal slurries from humans and mice in two experiments conducted by Dr. Cintia De Paiva and a team of experts at Baylor College of Medicine.