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Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences

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BMC Veterinary Research



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Background Quantification of lacrimal total protein content (TPC) is an important tool for clinical scientists to understand disease pathogenesis, identify potential biomarkers and assess response to therapy, among other applications. However, TPC is not only affected by disease state but also by the method used for tear collection. Thus, the purpose of this study is to determine the impact on TPC of two methods of tear collection in dogs and cats: Schirmer strips and polyvinyl acetal (PVA) sponges.

Methods (i) In vivo - Ten healthy dogs and 10 healthy cats were examined. Each animal underwent two sessions, separated by 10 min, in which a Schirmer strip was placed in one randomly selected eye until the 20-mm mark was reached, while a strip of PVA sponge was placed in the other eye for 1 min. (ii) In vitro - Schirmer strips and PVA sponges were spiked with various volumes of four bovine serum albumin solutions (0.5, 4, 10, and 20 mg/mL).

In both experiments, the wetted absorbent materials were centrifuged for 1 min, and the TPC was quantified on the extracted fluid using Direct Detect™ infrared spectroscopy.

Results Lacrimal TPC in dogs and cats ranged from 5.2 to 14.6 mg/mL and from 6.2 to 20.6 mg/mL, respectively. In cats, TPC was significantly lower with Schirmer strips vs. PVA sponges (P < 0.001). In dogs, the volume absorbed by PVA sponges was negatively correlated with TPC (r = − 0.48, P = 0.033). The inter-session coefficient of variation was significantly lower with Schirmer strips vs. PVA sponges in both species (P ≤ 0.010). In vitro, both absorbent materials resulted in a ‘concentrating effect’ of the TPC obtained post-centrifugation, which was most pronounced when the volume absorbed was low, especially for Schirmer strips.

Conclusion Schirmer strips provide a repeatable method to quantify lacrimal TPC in dogs and cats, although care should be taken to absorb sufficient volumes of tears to minimize the concentrating effect from the absorbent material.


This article is published as Sebbag, Lionel, Emily M. McDowell, Patrick M. Hepner, and Jonathan P. Mochel. "Effect of tear collection on lacrimal total protein content in dogs and cats: a comparison between Schirmer strips and ophthalmic sponges." BMC Veterinary Research 14, no. 1 (2018): 61. DOI: 10.1186/s12917-018-1390-7. Posted with permission.

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