Purpose: The main and accessory lacrimal glands are involved in reflex and basal secretion of tears, respectively, with the glandular tissue anatomy being similar for both glands. We transplanted part of the main lacrimal gland under the palpebral conjunctiva in a rabbit dry eye model and assessed the therapeutic effect of this procedure.
Methods: In New Zealand White rabbits, the greater superficial petrosal nerve was cut unilaterally under a microscope. The other eye served as a normal control. For transplantation, approximately 0.07 g of the main lacrimal gland was harvested from the normal side, labeled with octadecylindocarbocyanine, and transplanted under the palpebral conjunctivae of both eyes. At 1 week and 1 month after the transplantation, the eyes were observed, and the Schirmer tear test and histological examination of the palpebral conjunctiva were performed.
Results: On the denervated side, tear flow, measured by the Schirmer tear test, recovered at 1 month after the transplantation of the main lacrimal gland compared with that before transplantation. The contralateral control side showed no changes. On the denervated side, the fluorescein score significantly improved at 1 month after transplantation compared with that before transplantation (P < 0.005), whereas the rose bengal score showed no difference. Histological examination revealed that octadecylindocarbocyanine-labeled transplanted main lacrimal gland tissue was present under the palpebral conjunctiva.
Conclusions: These results suggest that the partial transplantation of the main lacrimal gland may be effective for treatment of dry eyes.