Meibum—a lipid secretion that is produced by Meibomian glands (MG) in a process termed meibogenesis—plays a critical role in ocular surface physiology. Abnormalities in the chemical composition of meibum were linked to widespread ocular pathologies—dry eye syndrome (DES) and MG dysfunction (MGD). Importantly, in epidemiologic studies the Asian population was shown to be prone to these pathologies more than the Caucasian one, which was tied to differences in their meibomian lipids. However, biochemical data to support these observations and conclusions are limited. To determine if non-DES/non-MGD Asian meibum was significantly different from that of Caucasians, individual samples of meibum collected from ethnic Asian population living in Japan were compared with those of Caucasians living in the USA. These experiments revealed that composition of major lipid classes, such as wax esters (WE), cholesteryl esters (CE), triacylglycerols, (O)-acylated ω-hydroxy fatty acids (OAHFA), cholesteryl sulfate, cholesteryl esters of OAHFA, and diacylated α,ω-dihydroxy fatty alcohols remained invariable in both races, barring a minor (< 10%; p < 0.01) increase in the Asian CE/WE ratio. Considering the natural variability range for most meibomian lipids (app. ± 15% of the Mean), these differences in meibogenesis were deemed to be minimal and unlikely to have a measurable physiological impact.
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