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Jane Azizkhan-Clifford, Oleg Alekseev, Kelly Donovan, Vladimir Limonnik; Non-Thermal Dielectric Barrier Discharge (DBD) Plasma Suppresses Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) Replication in Corneal Epithelium. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):6257.
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Herpes keratitis (HK) is the leading cause of cornea-derived and infection-associated blindness in the developed world. Despite the availability of effective antivirals, some patients develop refractory disease, drug-resistant infection, and topical toxicity. A non-pharmaceutical treatment modality may offer a unique advantage in the management of such cases. This study investigates the antiviral effect of non-thermal dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma, a partially ionized gas that can be applied to organic substances to produce various biological effects.
Human corneal epithelial cells and explanted corneas were infected with HSV-1 and exposed to culture medium treated with non-thermal DBD plasma. The extent of infection was measured by plaque assay, qPCR, and Western blot. Corneal toxicity assessment was performed with fluorescein staining, histological examination, and 8-OHdG detection.
Application of DBD plasma-treated medium to human corneal epithelial cells and explanted corneas produced a dose-dependent reduction of the cytopathic effect, viral genome replication, and the overall production of infectious viral progeny. Toxicity studies showed lack of detrimental effects in explanted human corneas.
Non-thermal DBD plasma substantially suppresses corneal HSV-1 infection in vitro and ex vivo without causing pronounced toxicity. Non-thermal plasma is a versatile tool that holds great biomedical potential for ophthalmology, where it is being investigated for wound healing and sterilization, and is already in use for ocular microsurgery. The anti-HSV-1 activity of DBD plasma demonstrated here could be directly translated to the clinic for use against drug-resistant herpes keratitis.
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