Benzalkonium chloride greatly deteriorates the biological activities of human corneal stroma fibroblasts in a concentration-dependent manner

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2023 Dec 22. doi: 10.1007/s00417-023-06325-5. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Corneal tissues indirectly obtain nutritional needs and oxygen to maintain their homeostasis, and therefore, benzalkonium chloride (BAC) containing ocular instillations for medical therapy may, in turn, induce toxic effects more than expected in corneal tissues, especially the inside stroma layer.

METHODS: To evaluate the effects of very low concentrations (10-8%, 10-6%, or 10-4%) of BAC on human corneal stroma, we used two-dimensional (2D) cultures of human corneal stromal fibroblast (HCSF) cells and carried out the following analyses: (1) cell viability measurements, (2) Seahorse cellular bio-metabolism analysis, and (3) the expression of ECM molecules and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-related molecules.

RESULTS: In the absence and presence of 10-8%, 10-6%, or 10-4% concentrations of BAC, cell viability deteriorated and this deterioration was dose-dependent. The results showed that maximal mitochondrial respiration was decreased, the mRNA expression of most of ECM proteins was decreased, and ER stress-related molecules were substantially and dose-dependently down-regulated in HCSFs by the BAC treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings reported herein indicate that the presence of BAC, even at such low concentrations, is capable of causing the deterioration of cellular metabolic functions and negatively affecting the response to ER stress in HCSF cells resulting in a substantially decreased cellular viability.

PMID:38133799 | DOI:10.1007/s00417-023-06325-5