Determining the Toxicity of UV Radiation and Chemicals on Primary and Immortalized Human Corneal Epithelial Cells
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This article describes the methods of measuring the toxicity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and ocular toxins on primary (pHCEC) and immortalized (iHCEC) human corneal epithelial cell cultures. Cells were exposed to UV radiation and toxic doses of benzalkonium chloride (BAK), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Metabolic activity was measured using a metabolic assay. The release of inflammatory cytokines was measured using a multi-plex interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) assay, and cells were evaluated for viability using fluorescent dyes. The damaging effects of UV on cell metabolic activity and cytokine release occurred at 5 min of UV exposure for iHCEC and 20 min for pHCEC. Similar percent drops in metabolic activity of the iHCEC and pHCEC occurred after exposure to BAK, H2O2, or SDS, and the most significant changes in cytokine release occurred for IL-6 and IL-8. Microscopy of fluorescently stained iHCEC and pHCEC BAK-exposed cells showed cell death at 0.005% BAK exposure, although the degree of ethidium staining was greater in the iHCECs than pHCECs. Utilizing multiple methods of assessing toxic effects using microscopy, assessments of metabolic activity, and cytokine production, the toxicity of UV radiation and chemical toxins could be determined for both primary and immortalized cell lines.
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