Cellular Proliferation and Migration of Human Pterygium Cells: Mitomycin Versus Small-Molecule Inhibitors

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Nutlin is a drug that has been reported to activate p53 in various cell lines. We aim to study the effects of Nutlin in pterygium and compare the effects of Nutlin and mitomycin C (MMC) in pterygium cell lines.


Pterygium samples (n = 3) were collected during surgical excision. Normal conjunctival tissues (n = 3) were collected from another quadrant of the same eye. Cell lines were established, and cells from passages 2 to 5 were used. Pterygium and conjunctival cells were treated with different doses of Nutlin and MMC. Cell proliferation and cell migration were measured.


Cell proliferation was reduced by 39-fold after treatment with 50 μM Nutlin. Cell migration was inhibited with increasing dosages of Nutlin (95% and 28% after treating with 2 and 50 μM Nutlin, respectively). Compared with MMC, Nutlin induced more pterygium cell death and less conjunctival cell death at low doses. At 50% lethal dose for pterygium cells, 95% of conjunctival cells survived after Nutlin treatment, whereas only 63% of conjunctival cells survived after MMC treatment. p21 expression was not detectable in MMC-treated pterygium cells but was detectable after Nutlin treatment.


In our study, MMC induced cell death in pterygium and conjunctival cell lines, whereas Nutlin had a targeted impact on pterygium cells. Our results implied that MMC inhibited both pterygium cell proliferation and migration through an apoptosis-independent pathway.

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