Novel keratoconus biomarker

Dermot McGrath

Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2020

Jesper Hjortdal MD,PhD

Progress is being made on several fronts to advance understanding of the complex pathogenesis of keratoconus, including identification of a novel biomarker that may prove useful as a supplemental diagnostic test for the disease, according to Jesper Hjortdal MD, PhD.

“Keratoconus remains an elusive disease where differentiation between association, cause, and effect is challenging and varies between individuals. Our research has identified a potential biomarker called Prolactin-Induced Protein (PIP), which seems to influence enzymes affecting corneal structure and homeostasis,” he said in a presentation at the World Ophthalmology 2020 Virtual Congress.

Studies have shown that saliva, tears and serum samples reveal hormone imbalances in keratoconus patients, explained Prof. Hjortdal.

“We are intrigued by the versatile function of PIP and the fact that it is regulated profoundly in keratoconus patients. The clinical significance of these observations is important and targeting PIP directly or indirectly may prove effective not only in early disease stages but also in advanced keratoconus stages,” he said.

Using PIP as a biomarker for keratoconus and/or a therapeutic target would represent a significant paradigm shift in keratoconus research, added Prof. Hjortdal.

He added that a lot of progress has also been made in epidemiological studies carried out in Denmark in recent years.

“We know for instance that non-Europeans have more than threefold higher odds of keratoconus compared to Europeans, and that atopic dermatitis. allergic rhinitis and asthma are common among patients with keratoconus. The good news, however, is that keratoconus is not associated with higher mortality in Denmark,” he said.