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Mauricio Guzmán, Florencia Sabbione, María Laura Gabelloni, Silvia Vanzulli, Analía Silvina Trevani, Mirta Nilda Giordano, Jeremías Gastón Galletti; Restoring Conjunctival Tolerance by Topical Nuclear Factor–κB Inhibitors Reduces Preservative-Facilitated Allergic Conjunctivitis in Mice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(9):6116-6126. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.14-14075.
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To evaluate the role of nuclear factor–κB (NF-κB) activation in eye drop preservative toxicity and the effect of topical NF-κB inhibitors on preservative-facilitated allergic conjunctivitis.
Balb/c mice were instilled ovalbumin (OVA) combined with benzalkonium chloride (BAK) and/or NF-κB inhibitors in both eyes. After immunization, T-cell responses and antigen-induced ocular inflammation were evaluated. Nuclear factor–κB activation and associated inflammatory changes also were assessed in murine eyes and in an epithelial cell line after BAK exposure.
Benzalkonium chloride promoted allergic inflammation and leukocyte infiltration of the conjunctiva. Topical NF-κB inhibitors blocked the disruptive effect of BAK on conjunctival immunological tolerance and ameliorated subsequent ocular allergic reactions. In line with these findings, BAK induced NF-κB activation and the secretion of IL-6 and granulocyte-monocyte colony-stimulating factor in an epithelial cell line and in the conjunctiva of instilled mice. In addition, BAK favored major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II expression in cultured epithelial cells in an NF-κB–dependent fashion after interaction with T cells.
Benzalkonium chloride triggers conjunctival epithelial NF-κB activation, which seems to mediate some of its immune side effects, such as proinflammatory cytokine release and increased MHC II expression. Breakdown of conjunctival tolerance by BAK favors allergic inflammation, and this effect can be prevented in mice by topical NF-κB inhibitors. These results suggest a new pharmacological target for preservative toxicity and highlight the importance of conjunctival tolerance in ocular surface homeostasis.
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