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Dry Eyes – Researchers find Protein plays a role in Dry and Infected Eyes

May 17th, 2006

Dry Eyes – Researchers find Protein plays a role in Dry and Infected Eyes

Mina Massaro-Giordano, M.D., (left) with  Marcella Macaluso, Ph.D 
Photo by Joseph Labolito/Temple University

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University discovered the Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor Type 2 (PAI-2) protein in a variety of cell types.  The PAI-2 was found in skin and in tissue covering the eye.  The discovery of the PAI-2 may lead to new treatments for outside eye surfaces including dry eyes and eye infections.

The lead researchers are Mina Massaro-Giordano, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute, and Marcella Macaluso, Ph.D., of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research at Temple University.  They first published the results of this study in the Nature’s journal called Cell Death and Differentiation.  They have also shared the findings at the annual meeting of the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Florida.


PAI-2 can come in an extracellular or a secreted form.  This protein helps to regulate cell proliferation and prevent programmed cell death.  The PAI-2 also helps to silence the microbial proteinases and help defend against stromal degradation.

It is believed that the health benefits of having high levels of PAI-2 protein will improve the outcome for some cancers by slowing down metastasis.  PAI-2 also is believed to participate when there is inflammation on the surface of the eye.

Penn and Temple showed how the PAI-2 interacts with the tumor suppressing gene Rb2/p130 within the nucleus of the epithelial cells in the cornea and conjunctiva.  The researchers believe that the interaction with Rb2/p130 along with chromatin modeling enzymes may influence how well the PAI-2 is expressed.


“There is a different expression of the protein between the epithelium of the cornea and conjunctiva cells,” said Massaro-Giordano, an assistant professor of ophthalmology, cataract and refractive surgery at Scheie. “This may help us understand the molecular mechanisms that dictate the different expression profiles of PAI-2 in human corneal and conjunctival epithelial cells.”

Possibly Hereditary conditions such as Sjogren's syndrome which often suffer from dry eyes may benefit in the future.  By understanding how genetics can cause dry eyes there will be new treatments that could help improve the condition.


Dry Eye Syndrome often affects people that are over 65 years of age.  One survey suggested that there are an estimated 59 million people in the United States that suffer from dry eyes.

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:47 PM