Tear levels of neuropeptides increase after specific allergen challenge in allergic conjunctivitis

Marta Sacchetti, Alessandra Micera, Alessandro Lambiase, Stefania Speranza, Flavio Mantelli, Girolamo Petrachi, Sergio Bonini, Stefano Bonini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Growing evidence is showing a role of neurogenic inflammation in allergic reactions, with sensory and autonomic nerve fibers releasing neuromediators, which may actively participate in the allergic inflammatory cascade. Although the cornea is the most densely innervated tissue of the human body, little is known on the role of neuromediators at the ocular surface. In this study, we aimed at evaluating the role of substance P (SP), calcitonine gene related peptide (CGRP), neuropeptide Y (NPY) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) in allergic reactions of the ocular surface. Methods: Fifteen patients with allergic conjunctivitis (6 female, 9 male, mean age 30±8 years) in non-active phase, and 10 age-matched healthy subjects were included in this study. The conjunctival provocation test (CPT) with allergen was performed in all allergic patients and in 5 healthy subjects. Tear samples were collected and the tear content of VIP, NPY, CGRP, and SP was measured by ELISA at baseline and after CPT. The Mann-Whitney U-test and Wilcoxon test were used to compare neuromediator tear levels. Results: No significant differences in neuropeptide tear levels were observed between healthy and allergic patients in non-active phase. CPT induced conjunctival hyperemia and itching in all allergic patients, while no reaction was observed in the control eyes and in healthy subjects. In allergic patients SP, CGRP, and VIP, but not NPY, were significantly higher after CPT as compared to baseline (SP: 3.9±1.3 ng/ml versus 5.8±1.1 ng/ml, p=0.011; CGRP: 5.5±2.3 ng/ml versus 7.3±2.7 ng/ml; p=0.002; VIP: 4±0.9 ng/ml versus 5.1±1.5 ng/ml, p=0.007). No significant changes were observed in the control eyes of allergic patients challenged with diluent and in healthy subjects after allergen provocation. Conclusions: Locally-released neuromediators may participate in modulating the allergic response of the ocular surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-52
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Vision
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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