Ocular injury progression and cornea histopathology from chloropicrin vapor exposure: Relevant clinical biomarkers in mice

Exp Eye Res. 2023 Mar 16:109440. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2023.109440. Online ahead of print.


Ocular tissue is highly sensitive to chemical exposures. Chloropicrin (CP), a choking agent employed during World War I and currently a popular pesticide and fumigating agent, is a potential chemical threat agent. Accidental, occupational, or intentional exposure to CP results in severe ocular injury, especially to the cornea; however, studies on ocular injury progression and underlying mechanisms in a relevant in vivo animal model are lacking. This has impaired the development of effective therapies to treat the acute and long-term ocular toxicity of CP. To study the in vivo clinical and biological effects of CP ocular exposure, we tested different CP exposure doses and durations in mice. These exposures will aid in the study of acute ocular injury and its progression as well as identify a moderate dose to develop a relevant rodent ocular injury model with CP. The left eyes of male BALB/c mice were exposed to CP (20% CP for 0.5 or 1 min or 10% CP for 1 min) using a vapor cap, with the right eyes serving as controls. Injury progression was evaluated for 25 days post-exposure. CP-exposure caused a significant corneal ulceration and eyelid swelling which resolved by day 14 post exposure. In addition, CP-exposure caused significant corneal opacity and neovascularization. Development of hydrops (severe corneal edema with corneal bullae) and hyphema (blood accumulation in the anterior chamber) was observed as advanced CP effects. Mice were euthanized at day 25 post-CP-exposure, and the eyes were harvested to further study the corneal injury. Histopathological analyses showed a significant CP-induced decrease in corneal epithelial thickness and increased stromal thickness with more pronounced damage, including stromal fibrosis, edema, neovascularization, trapped epithelial cells, anterior and posterior synechiae, and infiltration of inflammatory cells. Loss of the corneal endothelial cells and Descemet’s membrane could be associated with the CP-induced corneal edema and hydrops which could lead to long term term pathological conditions. Although exposure to 20% CP for 1 min caused more eyelid swelling, ulceration, and hyphema, similar effects were observed with all CP exposures. These novel findings following CP ocular exposure in a mouse model outline the corneal histopathologic changes that associate with the continuing ocular clinical effects. The data are useful in designing further studies to identify and correlate the clinical and biological markers of CP ocular injury progression with acute and long-term toxic effects on cornea and other ocular tissues. We take a crucial step towards CP ocular injury model development and in pathophysiological studies to identify molecular targets for therapeutic interventions.

PMID:36933694 | DOI:10.1016/j.exer.2023.109440

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