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Christian M. Wertheimer, Bryan Mendes, Qing Pei, Katharina Brandt, Irene E. Kochevar; Arginine as an Enhancer in Rose Bengal Photosensitized Corneal Crosslinking. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(8):24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.9.8.24.
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Oxygen-independent cornea crosslinking (CXL) using rose bengal (RB) and green light may have unique clinical applications. These studies were designed to gain insight into the arginine (arg)-enhanced anaerobic crosslinking process, to maximize crosslinking efficiency, and to test a clinically feasible method for oxygen-free CXL.
Rabbit corneas were treated ex vivo using 1 mM RB and 532 nm light. RB photodecomposition, monitored by absorption spectrophotometry, was used to optimize arg concentration and to develop an irradiation and re-dying protocol. The minimal effective green light fluence was identified by linear tensile strength measurements. RB penetration into the stroma was determined by fluorescence microscopy. To favor the anaerobic pathway, a contact lens was used to minimize stromal oxygen level during irradiation. Stromal cell toxicity was evaluated by a terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay.
RB photodecomposition reached 75% of its maximal effect at 200 mM arg and the optimal fluence increment was 32.7 J/cm2. The minimal effective fluence for cornea stiffening was 65.4 J/cm2. Placement of a contact lens promoted oxygen-independent cornea stiffening, similar to that obtained on isolated, oxygen-deprived cornea. RB penetration into the stroma with arg present was limited to ∼120 µm, about 25% deeper than without arg. Stromal cell toxicity was limited to the depth of RB and arg penetration.
An oxygen-independent pathway in cornea for RB-CXL was characterized and optimized, including a possible clinical protocol for its use.
Oxygen-independent RB-CXL is an efficient and effective process that can be developed further for unique clinical applications.
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