Ultraviolet A-induced oxidation in cornea: Characterization of the early oxidation-related events

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Exposure to sunlight ultraviolet-A (UVA), the main component of solar UV reaching the eyes, is suspected to play an important part in the onset of ocular pathologies. UVA primary biological deleterious effects arise from the photo-induction of oxidative stress in cells. However, the molecular bases linking UVA-induced oxidation to UVA toxicity in eyes remain poorly understood, especially with regards to the cornea. To shed some light on this issue, we have investigated the susceptibility and response potential of the different corneal cellular layers (epithelium, stroma and endothelium) to UVA-induced oxidation. We have monitored UVA-induced immediate effects on cellular redox balance, on mitochondrial membrane potential, on 8-Hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) accumulation in cellular DNA and on S-glutathionylated proteins (PSSG) levels along whole rabbit corneas. Higher redox imbalance was observed in the posterior part of the cornea following irradiation. Conversely, UVA-altered mitochondrial membrane potentials were observed only in anterior portions of the cornea. UVA-induced 8-OHdG were found in nuclear DNA of epithelia, while they were found in both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA in stromal and endothelial cells. Finally, significantly higher levels of cytosolic PSSG were measured in epithelia and endothelia immediately after UVA exposure, but not in stromas. Taken together, our findings indicate that while corneal epithelial cells are subjected to important modifications in response to UVA exposure, they efficiently limit the early manifestations of UVA-induced toxicity. On the other hand, the corneal endothelium is more susceptible to UVA-induced oxidation-related toxicity.

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