Tear tryptase levels and allergic conjunctivitis

L. Magrini, S. Bonini, M. Centofanti, M. Schiavone, S. Bonini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We measured tryptase, a neutral protease stored in the secretory granules of mast cells, by solid-phase radioimmunoassay in tears of 12 subjects with vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC) during remission phases, nine subjects with seasonal or perennial allergic conjunctivitis, and eight healthy controls. Mean values of tear tryptase levels were significantly (P <0.02) increased in VKC patients (14.5 ± 13 μg/l) when compared to those measured in patients with seasonal or perennial allergic conjunctivitis (0.6 ± 0.1 μg/l) and in controls (3.3 + 3.2 μg/l). In subjects with allergic conjunctivitis, the levels of tryptase, almost undetectable before allergen conjunctival challenge, showed a significant increase in the challenged eye 20 min - but not 6 h - after provocation in 5/9 cases. Our results indicate that VKC, a severe ocular disease characterized by an increased number and abnormal distribution of mast cells in the conjunctiva, also shows elevated levels of tryptase in tears even during remission phases. Evidence of mast-cell activation, as revealed by a significant increase of tryptase levels in tears, is documented during the early-phase reaction, but not during the late-phase reaction, of allergic conjunctivitis patients challenged topically by specific allergen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-581
Number of pages5
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Conjunctival provocation test
  • Hay fever conjunctivitis
  • Tears
  • Tryptase
  • Vernal keratoconjunctivitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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