To determine the galectin-3 (Gal3), interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and epidermal growth factor (EGF) levels in corneal epithelium of patients with recurrent corneal erosion (RCE) syndrome and compare them with healthy controls.
In this prospective interventional case control study, 32 eyes of 32 patients with RCE syndrome who had corneal epithelial erosions and 28 eyes of 28 healthy participants scheduled for photorefractive keratectomy (control group) were included. Exclusion criteria included corneal dystrophies, ectasia, dry eye, previous ocular surgery or topical medications, and systemic diseases. Epithelial samples were obtained during epithelial debridement in the study group and mechanical epithelial keratectomy in the control group. Galectin-3 levels were studied by the chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay method. IL-1, IL-6, and EGF levels were determined using corresponding ELISA kits.
The median Gal3 levels were 132.25 ng/mL in the study group and 106.50 ng/mL in the control group. The median IL-1 and IL-6 levels were 6.24 pg/mL and 10.16 pg/mL, respectively, in the study group which were higher than that in the control group. The median EGF level in the study group was lower than that the control group with 1.30 pg/mL versus 2.67 pg/mL. In the control group, there was a significant positive correlation between EGF and IL-6 (r = 0.554; P = 0.040). A similar correlation was not observed in patients with RCE (r = −0.071; P = 0.794).
The lack of increased EGF expression and the imbalance between growth factors, adhesion molecules, and interleukins may be the reason for the impaired wound healing response in RCE syndrome.