Purpose. To quantify the molecular lipid composition of patient-matched tear and meibum samples and compare tear and meibum lipid molecular profiles.
Methods. Lipids were extracted from tears and meibum by bi-phasic methods using 10:3 tert-butyl methyl ether:methanol, washed with aqueous ammonium acetate, and analyzed by chip-based nanoelectrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Targeted precursor ion and neutral loss scans identified individual molecular lipids and quantification was obtained by comparison to internal standards in each lipid class.
Results. Two hundred and thirty-six lipid species were identified and quantified from nine lipid classes comprised of cholesterol esters, wax esters, (O-acyl)-ω-hydroxy fatty acids, triacylglycerols, phosphatidylcholine, lysophosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, sphingomyelin, and phosphatidylserine. With the exception of phospholipids, lipid molecular profiles were strikingly similar between tears and meibum.
Conclusions. Comparisons between tears and meibum indicate that meibum is likely to supply the majority of lipids in the tear film lipid layer. However, the observed higher mole ratio of phospholipid in tears shows that analysis of meibum alone does not provide a complete understanding of the tear film lipid composition.