Opiorphin is an endogenous inhibitor of enkephalin-degrading enzymes. It has a strong analgesic effect in chemical and mechanical pain models. We aimed to evaluate the tear opiorphin levels in ocular pain caused by corneal foreign bodies and demonstrate whether there is any correlation with pain levels obtained from the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) score and tear opiorphin level.
Thirty-two healthy individuals and 34 individuals diagnosed with corneal foreign bodies were included in this study. Tear opiorphin levels were measured by the ELISA method using a commercially available kit. The difference in tear opiorphin levels between the patient and control groups were evaluated using the Mann–Whitney U test. The correlation between VAS scores and tear opiorphin levels was evaluated using the Spearman rank correlation coefficient.
The median values of tear opiorphin levels of the patient and control groups were 134 pg/mL (86.86–296.25) and 109.80 pg/mL (66.15–191.49), respectively. The Mann–Whitney U test showed a statistically significant difference in tear opiorphin levels between patient and control groups (P < 0.05). No ocular pain was reported in the control group. The median VAS score of the patient group was 6 points (1–9). No correlation was found between VAS scores and tear opiorphin levels in the patient group.
The cornea is the most densely innervated tissue, and the highest opiorphin concentrations have been observed in tear. It is, therefore, expected that the stimulation or damage to the nerve endings in cornea would cause an increase in opiorphin secretion as a pain relief mechanism.