Dendritic cells (DC) are the initiators of the allergic immune response, and their density increases in vernal keratoconjunctivitis. DC density and morphology in the more common and often milder forms of allergic conjunctivitis have not been investigated.

In this study for the first time, we assessed the density, morphology, and distribution of corneal and conjunctival DC as a marker of allergic eye disease in allergic conjunctivitis using in vivo confocal microscopy Higher DC density was established at the cornea and conjunctiva in subjects with allergic conjunctivitis compared with unaffected controls.

There was increased antigen-capture capacity of corneal DC, evidenced by larger cell bodies and a higher proportion of cells with long dendrites which was established using a novel repeatable morphology grading system.

The results of this study highlight the potential role of corneal and conjunctival DC in ocular allergy. Augmenting knowledge of DC function in ocular allergic inflammation may help develop new therapeutic approaches.

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