Effects of sex (or lack thereof) on meibogenesis in mice (Mus musculus): Comparative evaluation of lipidomes and transcriptomes of male and female tarsal plates

Igor Butovich, Anne McMahon, Jadwiga C. Wojtowicz, Nita Bhat, Amber Wilkerson

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3 Scopus citations


The possible role of sex in the biosynthesis of lipids in the Meibomian glands (termed meibogenesis) remains unclear. To determine if there were any major sex-specific differences in the lipid composition of meibomian gland secretions (meibum) and gene expression patterns (GEP) related to meibogenesis, we conducted a study using healthy, age and diet-matched young adult wild-type C57BL/6J mice (2–2.5 month old). Tarsal plates (TP) were surgically excised from the eyelids of mice and subjected to transcriptomic and lipidomic analyses. The GEP were studied using mRNA microarrays. Lipids were extracted with organic solvents and analyzed using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. GEP in the TP of female and male mice demonstrated no statistically significant differences in the expression levels of the main protein-coding genes related to lipid metabolism and storage in general, and meibogenesis specifically (such as Elovl, Scd, Fads, Soat, Far, Awat, Acat, Lss, Dhcr, Hmgcr, Hmgcs, Dgat, Bckdh, Dbt, Fasn, and Plin, among others). The meibomian lipid profiles of female and male mice were virtually indistinguishable: all major lipids such as waxes, cholesteryl esters, cholesterol, (O)-acylated omega-hydroxy fatty acids (OAHFA), cholesteryl esters of OAHFA etc., were present in similar ratios. It seems that the major biosynthetic pathways in the Meibomian glands of male and female mice function in a similar fashion and produce secretions of the same overall chemical composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOcular Surface
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Chromatography
  • Lipidome
  • Lipids
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Meibogenesis
  • Meibomian gland
  • Meibum
  • Sex
  • Tarsal plate
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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