Urban air pollution induces redox imbalance and epithelium hyperplasia in mice cornea

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The aim of the study was to evaluate the time course of the effects of urban air pollutants on the ocular surface, focusing on the morphological changes, the redox balance, and the inflammatory response of the cornea.8-week-old mice were exposed to urban or filtered air (UA-group and FA-group, respectively) in exposure chambers for 1, 2, 4, and 12 weeks. After each time, the eyes were enucleated and the corneas were isolated for biochemical analysis.UA-group corneas exhibited a continuous increase in NADPH oxidase-4 levels throughout the exposure time, suggesting an increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). After 1 week, an early adaptive response to ROS was observed as an increase in antioxidant enzymes. After 4 weeks, the enzymatic antioxidants were decreased, meanwhile an increase of the glutathione was shown, as a later compensatory antioxidant response. However, redox imbalance took place, evidenced by the increased oxidized proteins, which persisted up to 12 weeks. At this time point, corneal epithelium hyperplasia was also observed. The inflammatory response was modulated by the increase in IL-10 levels after 1 week, which early regulates the release of TNF-α and IL-6.These results suggest that air pollution alters the ocular surface, supported by the observed cellular hyperplasia. The redox imbalance and the inflammatory response modulated by IL-10 play a key role in the response triggered by air pollutants on the cornea. Taking into account this time course study, the ocular surface should also be considered as a relevant target of urban air pollutants.HighlightsUrban air pollution produces redox imbalance and epithelium hyperplasia in the cornea.Toxic mechanism involves oxidative stress and inflammatory response modulated by IL-10.NADPH oxidase-4 has been identified as a continuous source of ROS in the cornea.Corneal antioxidants early increase as an adaptive response to urban air pollutants.

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