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March 1987

Conjunctival Goblet Cells and Mitotic Rate in Children With Retinol Deficiency and Measles

Author Affiliations

From the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India (Dr Rao); the Eye and Ear Institute, University of Pittsburgh (Ms Friend and Dr Thoft); the National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Md (Dr Underwood); and the Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital, Hyderabad, India (Drs Rao and Reddy).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1987;105(3):378-380. doi:10.1001/archopht.1987.01060030098035

• To study the effect of retinol deficiency and measles on the conjunctival epithelium, we determined the epithelial mitotic rate (MR) and goblet cell frequency (GCF) in conjunctival biopsy specimens from preschool children in Hyderabad, India. We studied three groups of children: (1) normal appearing, (2) clinically retinol deficient (defined by the presence of superficial fine punctate keratitis), and (3) clinically retinol deficient with measles. The last group was subdivided into those with low serum retinol levels (≤20 μg/dL [≤0.70 μmol/L]) and those with normal serum retinol levels (>20 μg/dL [>0.70 μmol/L]). In the control group of seven normal-appearing children with a mean age of 4.6 years, the mean MR was 1.3% ± 0.4%, and the mean GCF was 8.0% ± 3.6% of the basal epithelial cells. In seven children with clinical retinol deficiency, the mean MR was 15.4% ± 1.2%, and the mean GCF was 1.0% ± 0.5%, values significantly different from normal ones. Among 11 children with clinical retinol deficiency, measles, and low serum retinol levels, the mean MR was 9.0% ± 1.9%, and the mean GCF was 3.1% ± 1.1%, values not statistically different from those in children with clinical retinol deficiency alone. Five children with clinical retinol deficiency, measles, and normal serum retinol levels had a mean MR of 10.2% ± 3.7% and a mean GCF of 1.9% ± 1.7%, values similar to those in the other disease groups. This indicates that retinol deficiency sufficient to cause clinical signs without subepithelial scarring or keratinization is associated with hyperproliferation of the conjunctiva whether or not there is a superimposed measles infection.

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