Corneal toxicity induced by vesicating agents and effective treatment options

Dinesh G Goswami, Neera Tewari-Singh, Rajesh Agarwal
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2016, 1374 (1): 193-201
The vesicating agents sulfur mustard (SM) and lewisite (LEW) are potent chemical warfare agents that primarily cause damage to the ocular, skin, and respiratory systems. However, ocular tissue is the most sensitive organ, and vesicant exposure results in a biphasic injury response, including photophobia, corneal lesions, corneal edema, ulceration, and neovascularization, and may cause loss of vision. There are several reports on ocular injury from exposure to SM, which has been frequently used in warfare. However, there are very few reports on ocular injury by LEW, which indicate that injury symptoms appear instantly after exposure and faster than SM. In spite of extensive research efforts, effective therapies for vesicant-induced ocular injuries, mainly to the most affected corneal tissue, are not available. Hence, we have established primary human corneal epithelial cells and rabbit corneal organ culture models with the SM analog nitrogen mustard, which have helped to test the efficacy of potential therapeutic agents. These agents will then be further evaluated against in vivo SM- and LEW-induced corneal injury models, which will assist in the development of potential broad-spectrum therapies against vesicant-induced ocular injuries.

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