Health and beauty and the ability to maintain both despite the slings and arrows of life is a mystery. One of the keys to that mystery lies in regenerative medicine and our body’s abilities to maintain a natural, healthy state whethere that is in dry eye with healthy tears or within the hair or skin for aesthetics. More and more, doctors are harnessing the power of  intricately prepared, complex mixtures of proteins, lipids, and other molecules secreted by cells into their surrounding environment to help us heal ourselves whether in dry eye, anti-aging or other disease states. 

Secretomes can be made with mesenchymal cells - bone marrow cells that naturally help us with repair) but our bodies would naturally destroy these foreign invaders without strong suppressive therapy OR if these secretomes could be prepared in a way that would remove the cells that can trigger a response but preserves all of the good “juice” left behind to help communicate  and turn on our body’s natural repair mechanisms.  Since i spent the weekend with heavy hitters across the US discussing the role of secretomes in the repair of corneal ulcers and dry eye, here is a little of what you need to know about these products. 

The secretome of the ocular surface epithelial cells, including those of the cornea and conjunctiva, norammly consists of various factors with diverse functions:

1. **Lubricating Proteins:** Certain proteins secreted by the ocular surface epithelium contribute to the lubrication of the eye. These proteins, such as mucins and lipocalins, help stabilize the tear film and prevent excessive evaporation, thus reducing dryness and discomfort.

2. **Anti-Inflammatory Factors:** Inflammation is a hallmark of dry eye syndrome, characterized by increased levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines on the ocular surface. The secretome contains anti-inflammatory factors, including cytokine antagonists and anti-inflammatory peptides, which help modulate the inflammatory response and alleviate symptoms of dry eye.

3. **Growth Factors:** Growth factors play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and regenerative capacity of the ocular surface epithelium. Growth factors present in the secretome, such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF), promote epithelial cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation, contributing to the repair of damaged tissues and the restoration of a healthy ocular surface.

4. **Antimicrobial Peptides:** The ocular surface is constantly exposed to microorganisms, and maintaining a delicate balance of microbial flora is essential for ocular health. Antimicrobial peptides secreted into the tear film as part of the secretome help protect the ocular surface from microbial colonization and infection, reducing the risk of complications associated with dry eye.

When eyes (or skin) is exposed to chronic damage, age or inflammation, these processes can break down, making it harder for the body to recover from an insult or just the accumulated damage of aging.  These therapies aim to deliver a cocktail of biologically active factors present in the secretome to the target tissues to promote tissue repair, reduce inflammation, and restore homeostasis - or own body’s own natural balance. 

Secretomes are currently being studied at Toyos Clinic in research trials to heal difficult to treat ulcers and dry eye. If you are interested in learning more about our research trials, please contact Sarah at 615.327.4015.

Secretome therapy provides all of the healing activity we want to help our bodies heal tough to treat conditions and restore us to a normal state and does so without the controversies or complications of actual stem cells. These factors are made in the lab and are delivered to the target tissues typically for a few weeks to create longer-lasting (perhaps up to a year) of lasting healing effects. 

As researchers, we are just starting to scratch the surface of what can be done harness the bioactive molecules that can help us regenerate and heal ourselves.  Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to secrete a diverse array of bioactive factors as part of their secretome, exerting regenerative and immunomodulatory effects. MSC-based therapies for dry eye involve the administration of MSC-derived secretome can promote tissue repair and alleviate inflammation on the ocular surface.

The secretome represents a rich source of bioactive molecules with therapeutic potential for managing difficult to treat or refractory conditions. Further research into the composition and function of the secretome, as well as the development of innovative therapeutic strategies, holds promise for improving the treatment outcomes of patients with dry eye and for aging in general.

If you are interested in learning more about regenerative medicine in dry eyes, other ocular condition and aesthetics, contact Toyos Clinic at 615.327.4015 or leave a request for consultation at to learn if these therapies may help you look and feel more like yourself.