TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) is an intensively studied cytokine, in particular for its anticancer activity. The discovery that conjunctival sac fluid contains extremely high levels of soluble TRAIL as compared to other body fluids suggested important implications in the context of the immunological surveillance of the eye, in particular of the anterior surface. In this review, we discuss the potential physiopathologic and therapeutic role of the TRAIL/TRAIL receptor system in a variety of ocular cancers. Moreover, since an increasing amount of data has indicated the important biological activities of the TRAIL/TRAIL receptor systems also in a completely different pathologic context such as diabetes mellitus, in the second part of this review we summarize the currently available data on the involvement of TRAIL in the ocular complications of diabetes mellitus as modulator of the inflammatory and angiogenic response in the eye
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