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Brain Res Bull. 2010 Feb 15;81(2-3):248-55. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2009.10.009. Epub 2009 Oct 21.

Topical application of naltrexone facilitates reepithelialization of the cornea in diabetic rabbits.

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  • 1Department of Neural & Behavioral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Delayed corneal reepithelialization is a complication of diabetes, and may lead to ulcers and erosions, which cause ocular morbidity and visual loss. This study examined the efficacy of naltrexone (NTX), a long-acting, potent opioid antagonist, applied topically, to facilitate the repair of standardized corneal abrasions in diabetic (alloxan-induced) New Zealand White rabbits (glucose levels>450 mg/dL). NTX at a concentration of 10(-4)M, or sterile vehicle (SV), was administered topically 4 times per day for 7 days to the abraded eye of uncontrolled Type 1 diabetic (DB), insulin-controlled Type 1 diabetic (DB-IN), or non-diabetic (Normal) rabbits. Wound healing was monitored, and non-invasive (tonopen, pachymeter, hand-held slit lamp, and retinal camera) and invasive (histopathology) measurements evaluated. Corneal reepithelialization in the uncontrolled DB rabbits was significantly enhanced (up to a 47% reduction in wound area) following treatment with NTX relative to both Normal SV and DB SV rabbits at 24, 48, and 56 h following surgery. At 72 h, DB NTX rabbits had residual defects that were 64-82% smaller than Normal and DB SV animals. NTX treated DB-IN rabbits had residual defects that were 9-37% smaller than DB-IN rabbits receiving SV, and 6-40% smaller than Normal rabbits. No signs of toxicity from topical applications were noted. These data confirm and extend those documented in rats that demonstrated a lack of toxicity of NTX at a wide range of dosages, as well as efficacy for enhanced corneal epithelialization. These studies set the stage for clinical trials using NTX as a therapy for diabetic keratopathy.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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