Tear lactoferrin, mainly secreted by the lachrymal glands, exerts a protective effect on the ocular surface, and an abnormal decrease of its production may lead to an increased risk of infection and pathological alterations of ocular surface epithelia. In this study we analyzed whether corneal and conjunctival epithelia could be an additional source of tear lactoferrin, and whether conjunctival epithelial cells in culture could be a suitable model system to address regulation of lactoferrin gene expression. Real-time PCR and Western immunoblotting showed that in bovines lactoferrin is indeed produced by these epithelia, and that the human lactoferrin promoter can direct the expression of a CAT reporter gene, thus indicating that these cells are a true source of lactoferrin, and may be used in vitro to study the regulation of lactoferrin expression.

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