Corneal epithelial cell biocompatibility to silicone hydrogel and conventional hydrogel contact lens packaging solutions.
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PURPOSE: Although all contact lenses (CLs) are applied initially to the eye directly from a packaging solution, little is known about the effects of these solutions on human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs). Due to the porous nature of CL materials, they have the potential to sorb components of the packaging solution during storage, which could then be subsequently released upon insertion of the CL on the eye. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of various packaging solutions on HCECs, using an in vitro model. METHODS: An in vitro assay was developed whereby various silicone hydrogels and conventional, poly-2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate (polyHEMA)-based lens materials were removed directly from their packaging and then incubated for up to 24 h with HCECs. The effect of the retained and released packaging solution components on HCECs was assessed by measuring cell viability, adhesion phenotype, and apoptosis. RESULTS: Incubation of HCECs with CLs stored in borate-buffered packaging solutions resulted in a significant reduction in cell viability. Adherent cells incubated with these CLs also exhibited reduced levels of beta(1) and alpha(3) integrin. Soaking borate-buffered packaged CLs in PBS before cell incubation resolved viability and integrin expression in all cases, with the exception of galyfilcon A and balafilcon A, from which a 20% reduction in cell viability was still observed. In comparison, CLs stored in phosphate-buffered packaging solutions had cellular viability and expression of integrins similar to control cells (cells incubated in the absence of a lens). When incubated with cells at a 10% concentration in serum-free medium, borate-buffered packaging solutions and borate-containing saline (Unisol 4) significantly reduced cell viability and integrin expression. Neither caspase activation nor annexin V binding was observed on cells following exposure to borate buffer solution. However, a significant decrease in reactive oxygen species was observed at 24 h. These latter results suggest that in vitro exposure to low concentration of borate/boric acid results in cell dysfunction, leading to necrosis rather than apoptosis. CONCLUSIONS: Borate-buffered packaging solutions were shown to adversely affect the viability and integrin expression of HCECs in vitro. When used in ophthalmic packaging solutions, the antimicrobial properties of borate buffer may be outweighed by its relatively cytotoxic effects on cells.
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