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Deoxynivalenol Damages Corneal Epithelial Cells and Exacerbates Inflammatory Response in Fungal Keratitis.

Mycopathologia 2024 March 15
BACKGROUND: Fungal keratitis (FK) is a kind of infectious keratopathy with a high rate of blindness worldwide. Deoxynivalenol (DON) has been proven to have multiple toxic effects on humans and animals.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to explore a possible pathogenic role of DON in FK.

METHODS: We first made an animal model of FK in New Zealand white rabbits, and then attempted to detect DON in a culture medium in which Fusarium solani had been grown and also in the corneal tissue of the animal model of Fusarium solani keratitis. Next, a model of DON damage in human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs) was constructed to evaluate effects of DON on the activity, migration ability, cell cycle, and apoptosis in the HCECs. Then, putative the toxic damaging effects of DON on rabbit corneal epithelial cells and the impact of the repair cycle were studied. The expression levels of inflammatory factors in the corneas of the animal model and in the model of DON-damaged HCECs were measured.

RESULTS: The Fusarium solani strain used in this study appeared to have the potential to produce DON, since DON was detected in the corneal tissue of rabbits which had been inoculated with this Fusarium solani strain. DON was found to alter the morphology of HCECs, to reduce the activity and to inhibit the proliferation and migration of HCECs. DON also induced the apoptosis and S-phase arrest of HCECs. In addition, DON was found to damage rabbit corneal epithelial cells, to prolong the corneal epithelial regeneration cycle, and to be associated with the upregulated expression of inflammatory factors in HCECs and rabbit corneas.

CONCLUSIONS: DON appears to have a toxic damaging effect on HCECs in FK, and to induce the expression of inflammatory factors, leading to the exacerbation of keratitis and the formation of new blood vessels. Future studies will explore the possibility of developing a test to detect DON in ophthalmic settings to aid the rapid diagnosis of FK, and to develop DON neutralizers and adsorbents which have the potential to improve keratocyte status, inhibit apoptosis, and alleviate inflammation, therein providing new thinking for therapy of clinical FK.

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