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J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Jun;27(3):265-71. doi: 10.1089/jop.2010.0120. Epub 2011 May 16.

Evaluation of the toxicity of triamcinolone acetonide and dexamethasone sodium phosphate on human lens epithelial cells (HLE B-3).

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Gavin Herbert Eye Institute Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California 92697, USA.



The purpose of this study was to compare the in vitro effects of triamcinolone acetonide (TA) and dexamethasone sodium phosphate (DEX) on human lens epithelial cells (HLE B-3).


HLE B-3 cells were exposed for 24 h to commercially available TA (c-TA) and dimethylsulfoxide-solubilized TA (s-TA). The cells were treated with 1,000 (clinical dose), 750, 500, 200, and 100 μg/mL concentrations of c-TA, s-TA, and supernatant for 24 h. The cells were also treated with DEX at 2, 1, 0.5, 0.2, 0.1 (clinical dose), and 0.05 mg/mL. Cell viability, caspase-3/7 activity, and DNA fragmentation analyses were performed.


The mean cell viabilities of HLE B-3 after exposure to c-TA at 1,000, 750, 500, 200, and 100 μg/mL were significantly reduced compared with control untreated cells. The s-TA also significantly reduced cell viability at 1,000, 750, and 500 μg/mL compared with dimethylsulfoxide control. The supernatant did not reduce cell viability. Caspase-3/7 activity significantly increased after treatment with c-TA and s-TA. DNA laddering revealed bands at 200 bp intervals with both c-TA at≥100 μg/mL and s-TA at ≥500 μg/mL. The cell viabilities of HLE B-3 after 24 h exposure to DEX were significantly reduced at 2 and 1 mg/mL but not at lower concentrations tested. Caspase-3/7 activities in HLE B-3 cells were not increased significantly after treatment with DEX at any dose tested. DNA laddering did not reveal any band at any dose tested.


This study showed that TA at its clinical dose (1,000 μg/mL) in both commercial preparation and solubilized forms decrease HLE B-3 cell viability through an apoptotic pathway. DEX at its clinical dose (0.1 mg/mL) does not decrease cell viability or cause any increase of caspase-3/7 activity. This study suggests that for long-term sustained-release devices, DEX may be less damaging to human lens cells than TA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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