Anomalous acute inflammatory response in rabbit corneal stroma

J. W. Ruberti, S. D. Klyce, M. K. Smolek, M. D. Karon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To investigate the nature and cause of an acute, anomalous stromal edema after epithelial debridement in the rabbit cornea. METHODS. Series I: Adult New Zealand White rabbit corneas were mounted in perfusion chambers. The endothelium was bathed with Ringer's fluid, and the outer surface was covered with silicone oil. The epithelium of one eye was debrided with a scalpel before mounting, and the cornea of the fellow eye was debrided with a rotating brush after stabilization in the perfusion chamber. Using specular microscope tracking software, it was possible to measure total swelling and local swelling within the cornea. Series II: Diclofenac sodium ophthalmic solution 0.1% or a placebo was applied topically, 1 drop per 45 minutes for 3 hours before animals were euthanatized. RESULTS. Series I: Corneas with their epithelium scraped with a scalpel before mounting were 37.5 ± 17.5 μm (n = 6; P < 0.001) thicker in vitro than the stromas of perfused, intact fellow corneas. Epithelial debridement with a rotating brush after mounting resulted in an immediate (within 8 minutes) stromal swelling that plateaued in 1 hour at 31.0 ± 5.3 μm (n = 6; P < 0.001). Curiously, in six of six corneas, the anterior stroma swelled more than the posterior stroma. In four of six corneas, the posterior stroma thinned. Analysis showed this pattern to be consistent with a sudden increase in anterior swelling pressure or osmotic pressure and to be inconsistent with a change in endothelial transport properties. Series II: Placebo-treated corneas swelled 30.6 ± 7.7 μm (n = 5) 1 hour after debridement, whereas corneas pretreated with diclofenac sodium swelled only 19.2 ± 3.1 μm (n = 6; P < 0.008). CONCLUSIONS. The anterior stromal swelling occurs rapidly and near the site of epithelial injury suggesting messenger and/or enzymatic involvement with an effect parallel to apoptosis. Reduction of the swelling response with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) implicates the cyclooxygenase pathway. The swelling is similar to the unexplained acute edema that occurs during inflammation in the rat paw edema model, and may represent a general mechanism for mobilization of inflammatory cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2523-2530
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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