Polarity-Driven Fluorescence Monitoring of Lipid Droplet Dynamics in Dry Eye Disease

Anal Chem. 2024 Jun 3. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.4c01366. Online ahead of print.


The emergence of lipid droplets (LDs) has been recognized as cellular markers of ocular surface hyperosmosis, which is recognized as a fundamental mechanism driving dry eye disease (DED), while their dynamics during DED progression and therapy remains unlocked. For this purpose, an LD-specific fluorescent probe P1 is presented in this work that exhibits highly selective and sensitive emission enhancement in response to a decreased ambient polarity (Δf) from 0.209 to 0.021. The hydrophobic nature of P1 enables specific staining of LDs, facilitating visualization of changes in polarity within these cellular structures. Utilizing P1, we observe a decrease in polarity accompanied by an increase in the size and number of LDs in hyperosmotic human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs). Furthermore, interplays between LDs and cellular organelles such as mitochondria and the Golgi apparatus are visualized, suggesting the underlying pathogenesis in DED. Notably, the variations of LDs are observed after the inhibition of ferroptosis or activation of autophagy in hyperosmotic HCECs, implying the great potential of LDs as indicators for the design and efficacy evaluation of DED drugs regarding ferroptosis or autophagy as targets. Finally, LDs are confirmed to be overproduced in corneal tissues from DED mice, and the application of clinical eye drops effectively impedes these changes. This detailed exploration underscores the significant roles of LDs as an indicator for the deep insight into DED advancement and therapy.

PMID:38830231 | DOI:10.1021/acs.analchem.4c01366