April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
A Rat Model for Contact Lens Associated Fusarium Keratitis
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Michaela L. Bajenaru
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida
  • A R. Santos
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida
  • M A. Shousha
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida
  • R A. Oechsler
    Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • J Maestre
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida
  • E Hernandez
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida
  • M E. Fini
    USC Institute for Genetic Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California
  • Darlene Miller
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Univ of Miami Miller Sch of Med, Miami, Florida
  • E C. Alfonso
    Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Michaela L. Bajenaru, None; A. R. Santos, None; M. A. Shousha, None; R. A. Oechsler, None; J. Maestre, None; E. Hernandez, None; M. E. Fini, None; Darlene Miller, None; E. C. Alfonso, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  NEI Core Center grant P30 EY014801, An unrestricted grant to the University of Miami from Research to Prevent Blindness, Alcon, Inc: Bausch& Lomb
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 2935. doi:
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      Michaela L. Bajenaru, A R. Santos, M A. Shousha, R A. Oechsler, J Maestre, E Hernandez, M E. Fini, Darlene Miller, E C. Alfonso; A Rat Model for Contact Lens Associated Fusarium Keratitis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):2935.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : Fungal keratitis is responsible for significant ocular morbidity and blindness worldwide with higher incidence in regions with warm, humid climates such as in South Florida. Trauma and contact lens wear are major risk factors for the development of the disease. One of the most common and pathogenic isolates for fungal keratitis is Fusarium solani. We developed a highly reproducible rat contact lens model with the help of optical coherence tomography (OCT). The purpose of this study is to induce contact lens (CL)-associated Fusarium keratitis in the rat and to study its molecular pathogenesis.

Methods: : Hydrogel (38% water, 62% polymacon) contact lenses (Bausch and Lomb, UK) were fitted on immunocompromised female Sprague-Dawley rats (n=24). Fusarium infection was initiated in the experimental eye by performing corneal stromal abrasion on the rat eye and fitting a contact lens soaked in Fusarium solani 108 CFU/ml for 4 hours. The fungal infection was monitored by periodic slit lamp examination, and SD-OCT imaging of the rat eye. One week post infection, the eyes were enucleated, cornea were excised, and submitted for histopathology. Corneal homogenates were cultured on Sabouraud agar plates to quantify the viable fungi in the infected rat cornea. PCR with specific primers for Fusarium solani was performed in corneal homogenates.

Results: : Our results revealed a 75% infection rate 1 week post-infection in the CL-associated Fusarium keratitis rat model. The SD-OCT findings confirmed the histopathological and slit lamp results in all the animals with CL-associated fungal keratitis, revealing thickening of the cornea, endothelial plaques, and inflammatory cells infiltrates. Moreover, in one case, SD-OCT was able to detect the infection even without any findings on slit lamp examination. PCR was positive with primers specific for Fusarium. Sabouraud agar plates were culture positive, and we quantified a high infective index of 105 CFU/eye. Fungal hyphae were also observed in cross-sections of the corneal tissue by H&E and Gomori staining.

Conclusions: : The clinical presentation of CL associated Fusarium keratitis in the rat model is very similar to humans. SD-OCT proved to be a very valuable tool. It is non-invasive and confirmed a suspected case of keratitis with only subtle clinical manifestation.

Keywords: cornea: basic science • contact lens • keratitis 

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