Activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor by hydrogels in artificial tears

Jennifer S. Lozano, Edward Y. Chay, Jeffrey Healey, Rebecca Sullenberger, Jes K. Klarlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Most formulations of artificial tears include high-molecular weight hydrophilic polymers (hydrogels) that are usually thought to serve to enhance viscosity and to act as demulcents. A few reports have indicated that application of some of the polymers accelerates healing of wounds in epithelia. Since activation of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor is critical for spontaneous corneal epithelial wound healing, we tested commonly used hydrogels for their ability to activate the EGF receptor and enhance closure of wounds. Five structurally unrelated hydrogels used in artificial tears were found to activate the EGF receptor. Importantly, two of the hydrogels enhanced wound healing in an organ culture model. We propose that the efficacy of hydrogels in treating dry eye may be related to their ability to activate the EGF receptor, and that hydrogels are inexpensive, safe agents to promote healing of wounds in the cornea and possibly in other tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-505
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • carboxymethyl cellulose
  • corneal wound healing
  • hydrogel
  • hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose
  • methyl cellulose
  • polyvinyl alcohol
  • povidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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