Development of lacrimal gland inflammation in the mouse model of herpes stromal keratitis

Herpes stromal keratitis (HSK) is a chronic immunoinflammatory condition which develops in response to recurrent herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infection of the cornea. Patients with HSK often demonstrate the concurrence of corneal desiccation and the loss of blink reflex. However, the relationship between severity of HSK, level of basal tears and inflammation of the lacrimal gland is mostly unexplored. In this study, we compared these variables in extraorbital lacrimal gland (EoLG) after corneal HSV-1 infection in the C57BL/6J mouse model. Our results showed a significant reduction in the volume of tears in infected eyes during the development of HSK. Extensive architectural damage to EoLG, presumably caused by a massive influx of interferon-gamma secreting T cells, was observed during clinical disease period of HSK. A positive correlation between the decrease in tear volume, severity of HSK and the damage to EoLG were evident in infected mice. The presence of infectious virus measured in EoLG during pre-clinical, but not clinical disease period of HSK, suggested that viral cytopathic effects are not the major contributors of extensive damage seen in EoLG. Furthermore, topical administration of lacritin peptide delayed but did not prevent the decrease in tears in HSV-1 infected mice, and had no significant effect in either reducing the severity of HSK or T cell infiltration in EoLG of infected mice. Together, our results showed an interplay between the severity of HSK, inflammation of EoLG, and the reduced level of tears after corneal HSV-1 infection.