Diurnal changes and topographical distribution of ocular surface epithelial dendritic cells in humans, and repeatability of density and morphology assessment

Zahra Tajbakhsh, Isabelle Jalbert, Fiona Stapleton, Nancy Briggs, Blanka Golebiowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Dendritic cells (DC) play a crucial role in ocular surface defence. DC can be visualised in vivo by confocal microscopy but have not yet been fully characterised in humans. This study investigated the diurnal variation, topographical distribution and repeatability of DC density and morphology measurements. Methods: In vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) was conducted on 20 healthy participants (mean age 32.7 ± 6.4 years, 50% female) at baseline and repeated after 30 minutes, 2, 6 and 24 h. Images were captured at the corneal centre, inferior whorl, corneal periphery, limbus and bulbar conjunctiva. DC were counted manually, and their morphology was assessed for cell body size, presence of dendrites, and presence of long and thick dendrites. Mixed-model analysis, non-parametric analyses, Bland and Altman plots, coefficient of repeatability (CoR) and kappa were used. Results: There were no significant changes in DC density (p ≥ 0.74) or morphology (p > 0.07) at any location over the 24-h period. The highest DC density was observed at the corneal limbus followed by the peripheral cornea (p < 0.001), with the lowest density at the corneal centre, inferior whorl and bulbar conjunctiva. Most DC at the corneal periphery, limbus and bulbar conjunctiva had larger cell bodies compared with the corneal centre (p ≤ 0.01), and the presence of long dendrites was observed mostly at non-central locations. Day-to-day CoR for DC density ranged from ±28.1 cells/mm2 at the corneal centre to ±56.4 cells/mm2 at the limbus. Day-to-day agreement of DC morphology determined by kappa ranged from 0.5 to 0.95 for cell body size, 0.60 to 0.95 for presence of dendrites, and 0.55 to 0.80 for the presence of long dendrites at various locations. Conclusions: No diurnal changes are apparent in corneal or conjunctival DC. Substantial topographical differences exist in DC density and morphology. IVCM provides good repeatability of DC density and acceptable agreement of DC morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-283
Number of pages11
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

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