Amelioration of ultraviolet-induced photokeratitis in mice treated with astaxanthin eye drops.
Mol Vis. 2012 ;18:455-64. Epub 2012 Feb 14. PMID: 22393271
PURPOSE: Ultraviolet (UV) acts as low-dose ionizing radiation. Acute UVB exposure causes photokeratitis and induces apoptosis in corneal cells. Astaxanthin (AST) is a carotenoid, present in seafood, that has potential clinical applications due to its high antioxidant activity. In the present study, we examined whether topical administration of AST has preventive and therapeutic effects on UV-photokeratitis in mice.
METHODS: C57BL/6 mice were administered with AST diluted in polyethylene glycol (PEG) in instillation form (15μl) to the right eye. Left eyes were given vehicle alone as controls. Immediately after the instillation, the mice, under anesthesia, were irradiated with UVB at a dose of 400 mJ/cm(2). Eyeballs were collected 24 h after irradiation and stained with H&E and TUNEL. In an in vitro study, mouse corneal epithelial (TKE2) cells were cultured with AST before UV exposure to quantify the UV-derived cytotoxicity.
RESULTS: UVB exposure induced cell death and thinning of the corneal epithelium. However, the epithelium was morphologically well preserved after irradiation in AST-treated corneas. Irradiated corneal epithelium was significantly thicker in eyes treated with AST eye drops, compared to those treated with vehicles (p<0.01), in a doses dependent manner. Significantly fewer apoptotic cells were observed in AST-treated eyes than controls after irradiation (p<0.01). AST also reduced oxidative stress in irradiated corneas. The in vitro study showed less cytotoxicity of TKE2 cells in AST-treated cultures after UVB-irradiation (p<0.01). The cytoprotective effect increased with the dose of AST.
CONCLUSIONS: Topical AST administration may be a candidate treatment to limit the damages by UV irradiation with wide clinical applications.