Vitamin A Reduces Ocular Surface Disease After Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

KOLKATA, INDIA – SEPTEMBER 19: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Dr Roberto Pineda performs a corneal transplant as seen on a screen next to the operating theatre on the converted DC-10 Aircraft that charity Orbis uses as a flying opthalmic hospital at Kolkata airport on September 19, 2013 in Kolkata, India. During her solo visit to India the Countess is supporting the sight saving charity ORBIS. The Countess witnessed patients’ surgery and met patients’ during her tour of the plane. She also met medical volunteers from around the world who share their skills with local eye care workers to improve eye care in local communities. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Low serum vitamin A levels may impact dry eye symptoms in these patients.

The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020, being held virtually from November 13 to 15, 2020. The team at Ophthalmology Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in ophthalmology. Check back for more from the AAO 2020.

Vitamin A supplementation may improve ocular surface disease in patients who undergo allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), researchers found in a study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020 conference.

The investigators sought to determine whether the serum level of vitamin A is associated with dry eye disease (DED), which is associated with chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).

They measured the vitamin A serum levels in 51 patients who had undergone allogeneic HSCT. The main outcome they discovered included the development of grade 4 DED and a change in Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) score.

Of those who were found to develop DED, those with a low serum vitamin A level developed grade 4 DED after HSCT in 10 months  (P =.038). Participants with normal serum vitamin A levels who developed DED didn’t see that progression until 28.1 months. The subjects with low serum vitamin A levels first developed DED (of any grade) at 2.3 months and experienced a mean change in OSDI score of 24 from baseline, while subjects with normal serum vitamin A levels first developed it at 10 months (P =.007) and had a mean change in OSDI of 17.7 from baseline (P >.05).

Serum vitamin A is crucial for the development of mucosal tolerance and shift of target organ tropism of donor T cells, which is important in GVHD pathogenesis, and if there are low levels of the vitamin, DED associated with GVHD may increase, the researchers concluded.


Kim KH, Mian SI. Association of serum vitamin A with incidence of severe DED associated with chronic GVHD. Presented at: American Academy of Ophthalmology 2020 Annual Meeting; November 13-15, 2020. Abstract PO068.

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