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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Jul 16;54(7):4717-33. doi: 10.1167/iovs.13-11681.

Mitochondrial permeability transition pore in inflammatory apoptosis of human conjunctival epithelial cells and T cells: effect of cyclosporin A.

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Biological Sciences, Inflammation Research Program, Allergan, Inc., Irvine, California 92612, USA.



To investigate the role of mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) and effect of cyclosporin A (CsA) on inflammatory apoptosis of human conjunctival epithelial cells (IOBA-NHC) and T cells.


IOBA-NHC and Jurkat cells were stimulated with IFNγ, TNFα, αFas, or PMA/αCD3, in the presence or absence of CsA. MPTP was determined using the calcein-cobalt technique. Mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) was measured with JC-1. Apoptosis was quantified by Annexin V/PI staining. Apoptosis mediators were evaluated by flow cytometry or Western blot.


In IOBA-NHC, TNFα, and IFNγ induced MPTP opening, ΔΨm loss, and increased cell apoptosis. This was accompanied by upregulation of Fas/FasL; Bax; and caspase-3, -8, and -9 activation. Addition of CsA prevented IOBA-NHC from cell death by blocking MPTP opening, ΔΨm loss, Fas/FasL, and caspase activation. In PMA/αCD3-activated Jurkat T cells, MPTP opening and ΔΨm loss were increased along with cell apoptosis and upregulated Fas/FasL/caspase expressions. CsA further promoted T-cell apoptosis, ΔΨm loss, and upregulation of Fas/FasL/caspase.


Inflammation induces aberrant MPTP opening, resulting in an increased apoptosis in conjunctival epithelial cells. CsA protected IOBA-NHC from cell death by blocking both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis pathways. CsA promoted T-cell apoptosis via upregulating Fas/FasL and caspase activities with a minimal effect on MPTP. The findings suggest that the differential effect of CsA on T cells versus ocular surface resident epithelial cells may contribute to its therapeutic efficacy in treating ocular inflammation such as dry eye disease.


T cells; apoptosis; conjunctival epithelial cells; cyclosporin A (CsA); dry eye; inflammation; mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP)

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