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Subspecialties Basic & Translational Research, Cornea / Ocular Surface

Conjunctival Cavalry

The question of whether or not the ocular surface harbors resident microbiota has been under debate for a long time; microbial organisms can be found on the surface of the eye, but they could have arrived there from the surrounding environment. Now there’s an answer to this long standing deliberation; a resident ocular biome does exist – and it helps defend the ocular surface from pathogens by tuning local immunity.

“Originally, we were collaboratively studying Muckle-Wells disease, a condition which results in generalized inflammatory syndrome and is accompanied by conjunctivitis, in mice,” says Rachel Caspi, of the National Eye Institute and lead author on the corresponding paper (1). Interested in the conjunctivitis aspect, the team hypothesized that these individuals (and the mice carrying the mutation) may be responding abnormally to normal stimuli from the environment. Caspi says, “We’d also observed that immunologically deficient mice at our facility developed conjunctivitis as they aged. Microorganisms were one possibility so we started to examine healthy and mutant mice, and the rest is history…”

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About the Author

Ruth Steer

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