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Exp Eye Res. 1990 Jan;50(1):11-6.

Cytolysis of corneal epithelial cells by hydrogen peroxide.

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Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Ophthalmology, Charleston 29425.


Superoxide radicals or products generated by these radicals in a xanthine/xanthine oxidase system lyse cultured rat and human corneal epithelial cells as measured in a chromium-51 release assay. Partial protection from this lysis is afforded by superoxide dismutase and complete protection is obtained with catalase. Hydrogen peroxide, a product of the dismutation of superoxide radicals, lyses these cells directly and is implicated as the toxic agent in the xanthine/xanthine oxidase reaction. Hydrogen peroxide also decreases cell proliferation and decreases the intact DNA. Therefore, hydrogen peroxide appears to be toxic to corneal epithelial cells. The implications of these data on the safety of hydrogen peroxide as a contact lens disinfectant are discussed.

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