PURPOSE: To investigate the expression, release, and proteolytic degradation of galectin-3 in patients with dry eye disease. DESIGN: Observational case series with a comparison group. METHODS: Tear washes and conjunctival impression cytology specimens were collected through standard procedures from 16 patients with dry eye and 11 age-matched healthy subjects. Galectin-3 content in tears was analyzed by quantitative Western blot, using recombinant galectin-3 protein to generate a calibration curve. The relative expression of galectin-3 and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) was evaluated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The cleavage of galectin-3 was studied in vitro using activated recombinant MMP9 and protease inhibitors. RESULTS: The concentration of galectin-3 protein in tears, but not galectin-3 expression in conjunctival epithelium, was significantly higher in tears of patients with dry eye (0.38 ng/μg total protein, range 0.04-1.36) compared to healthy subjects (0.12 ng/μg total protein, range 0.00-0.41) (P < .01). By Western blot, an intact (∼28.0 kDa) galectin-3 band was identified in tear samples from healthy subjects, whereas 50% of the dry eye samples were characterized by the additional presence of a partially degraded form (∼25.4 kDa). In our experiments, elevated expression of MMP9 in dry eye subjects correlated with the ability of active MMP9 to cleave galectin-3 from recombinant origin. Interestingly, cleavage of endogenous galectin-3 in tear samples was impaired using a broad-spectrum proteinase inhibitor cocktail, but not the pan-specific MMP inhibitor GM6001, suggesting the presence of proteases other than MMPs in promoting galectin-3 degradation in dry eye. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that release of cellular galectin-3 into tears is associated with epithelial dysfunction in dry eye, and that galectin-3 proteolytic cleavage may contribute to impaired ocular surface barrier function.
PURPOSE: To estimate the impact of dry eye disease (DED) on work performance and productivity in office workers using visual display terminals (VDTs). DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. METHODS: Six hundred seventy-two Japanese young and middle-aged office workers using VDTs completed a questionnaire that was designed to measured at-work performance deficits and productivity losses using the Japanese version of the Work Limitations Questionnaire, completed by e-mail. Using the Japanese dry eye diagnostic criteria, respondents were classified into 3 groups: definite DED, probable DED, and non DED. RESULTS: Of the 672 office workers, 553 subjects (82.3%), including 366 men and 187 women, completed the questionnaire and underwent clinical evaluation. As for the total workplace productivity loss, the non DED group demonstrated a loss of 3.56%, those with probable DED demonstrated a loss of 4.06%, and those with definite DED demonstrated a loss of 4.82%, indicating significantly worse performance and productivity (P = .014, trend test). For the 4 subscales, DED was associated with significantly lower on-the-job time management (P = .009, trend test) and combined mental performance and interpersonal functioning (P = .011, trend test). After controlling for age, sex, VDT working hours, and diagnosis of DED, time management, physical demands, and mental and interpersonal functioning showed a significant relationship to DED (each P > .05). Annual DED productivity losses were estimated to be $6160 per employee when measured by total production and $1178 per employee calculated by wage. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicated that there is a significant impact of DED on the total productivity of Japanese VDT users.
Bacterial corneal infections, or bacterial keratitis (BK), are ophthalmic emergencies that frequently lead to irreversible visual impairment. Though increasingly recognized as a major cause of global blindness, modern paradigms of evidence-based care in BK have remained at a diagnostic and therapeutic impasse for over half a century. Current standards of management - based on the collection of corneal cultures and the application of broad-spectrum topical antibiotics - are beset by important yet widely underrecognized limitations, including approximately 30% of all patients who will develop moderate to severe vision loss in the affected eye. Though recent advances have involved a more clearly defined role for adjunctive topical corticosteroids, and novel therapies such as corneal crosslinking, overall progress to improve patient and population-based outcomes remains incommensurate to the chronic morbidity caused by this disease. Recognizing that the care of BK is guided by the clinical axiom, "time equals vision", this chapter offers an evidence-based synthesis for the clinical management of these infections, underscoring critical unmet needs in disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Ung L, Acharya NR, Agarwal T, Alfonso EC, Bagga B, Bispo PJM, Burton MJ, Dart JK, Doan T, Fleiszig SM, Garg P, Gilmore MS, Gritz DC, Hazlett LD, Iovieno A, Jhanji V, Kempen JH, Lee CS, Lietman TM, Margolis TP, McLeod SD, Mehta JS, Miller D, Pearlman E, Prajna L, Prajna VN, Seitzman GD, Shanbhag SS, Sharma N, Sharma S, Srinivasan M, Stapleton F, Tan DT, Tandon R, Taylor HR, Tu EY, Tuli SS, Vajpayee RB, Van Gelder RN, Watson SL, Zegans ME, Chodosh J. Infectious corneal ulceration: a proposal for neglected tropical disease status. Bull World Health Organ 2019;97(12):854-856.
PURPOSE: Transplantation of limbal stem cells is a promising therapy for limbal stem cell deficiency. Limbal cells can be harvested from either a healthy part of the patient's eye or the eye of a donor. Small explants are less likely to inflict injury to the donor site. We investigated the effects of limbal explant size on multiple characteristics known to be important for transplant function. METHODS: Human limbal epithelial cells were expanded from large versus small explants (3 versus 1 mm of the corneal circumference) for 3 weeks and characterized by light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and transmission electron microscopy. Epithelial thickness, stratification, outgrowth, ultrastructure and phenotype were assessed. RESULTS: Epithelial thickness and stratification were similar between the groups. Outgrowth size correlated positively with explant size (r = 0.37; P = 0.01), whereas fold growth correlated negatively with explant size (r = -0.55; P < 0.0001). Percentage of cells expressing the limbal epithelial cell marker K19 was higher in cells derived from large explants (99.1±1.2%) compared to cells derived from small explants (93.2±13.6%, P = 0.024). The percentage of cells expressing ABCG2, integrin β1, p63, and p63α that are markers suggestive of an immature phenotype; Keratin 3, Connexin 43, and E-Cadherin that are markers of differentiation; and Ki67 and PCNA that indicate cell proliferation were equal in both groups. Desmosome and hemidesmosome densities were equal between the groups. CONCLUSION: For donor- and culture conditions used in the present study, large explants are preferable to small in terms of outgrowth area. As regards limbal epithelial cell thickness, stratification, mechanical strength, and the attainment of a predominantly immature phenotype, both large and small explants are sufficient.
Limbal stem cell deficiency can be treated with transplantation of cultured human limbal epithelial cells (LEC). It can be advantageous to produce LEC in centralized labs and thereafter ship them to eye clinics. The present study used transport simulations of LEC to determine if vigorous shaking during transport altered the viability, morphology and phenotype during a 4 day-long storage of LEC with a previously described serum-free storage method. Inserts with LEC cultured on amniotic membranes were sutured to caps inside air-tight containers with generous amounts of 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid (HEPES)-buffered minimal essential medium (MEM). The containers were distributed among the following testing conditions: 6 hours with full containers, 36 hours with full containers, 36 hours with container three quarters full of medium, and 36 hours with container full of medium containing a shear-protecting agent (Pluronic-F68). Compared to stored, but non-transported controls, no statistically significant changes in viability and immunohistochemical staining were observed. The epithelial sheets remained intact. However, an air-liquid interface in the containers reduced the number of desmosomes and hemi-desmosomes compared to the controls. In conclusion, cultured LEC sheets appear to endure vigorous shaking for at least 36 hours if the container is full.
AIM/PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: To develop a one-week storage method, without serum and xenobiotics, that would maintain cell viability, morphology, and phenotype of cultured human limbal epithelial sheets. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Human limbal explants were cultured on intact human amniotic membranes for two weeks. The sheets were stored in a hermetically sealed container at 23°C in either a serum-free medium with selected animal serum-derived compounds (Quantum 286) or a xenobiotic-free medium (Minimal Essential Medium) for 4 and 7 days. Stored and non-stored cultures were analyzed for cell viability, amniotic membrane and epithelial sheet thickness, and a panel of immunohistochemical markers for immature cells (ΔNp63α, p63, Bmi-1, C/EBP∂, ABCG2 and K19), differentiated cells (K3 and Cx43), proliferation (PCNA), and apoptosis (Caspase-3). RESULTS: The cell viability of the cultures was 98 ± 1% and remained high after storage. Mean central thickness of non-stored limbal epithelial sheets was 23 ± 3 μm, and no substantial loss of cells was observed after storage. The non-stored epithelial sheets expressed a predominantly immature phenotype with ΔNp63α positivity of more than 3% in 9 of 13 cultures. After storage, the expression of ABCG2 and C/EBP∂ was reduced for the 7 day Quantum 286-storage group; (P = 0.04), and Bmi-1 was reduced after 4 day Quantum 286-storage; (P = 0.02). No other markers varied significantly. The expression of differentiation markers was unrelated to the thickness of the epithelia and amniotic membrane, apart from ABCG2, which correlated negatively with thickness of limbal epithelia (R = -0.69, P = 0.01) and ΔNp63α, which correlated negatively with amniotic membrane thickness (R = -0.59, P = 0.03). CONCLUSION: Limbal epithelial cells cultured from explants on amniotic membrane can be stored at 23°C in both serum-free and xenobiotic-free media, with sustained cell viability, ultrastructure, and ΔNp63α-positivity after both 4 and 7 days.
Streptococcus pneumoniae, an inhabitant of the upper respiratory mucosa, causes respiratory and invasive infections as well as conjunctivitis. Strains that lack the capsule, a main virulence factor and the target of current vaccines, are often isolated from conjunctivitis cases. Here we perform a comparative genomic analysis of 271 strains of conjunctivitis-causing S. pneumoniae from 72 postal codes in the United States. We find that the vast majority of conjunctivitis strains are members of a distinct cluster of closely related unencapsulated strains. These strains possess divergent forms of pneumococcal virulence factors (such as CbpA and neuraminidases) that are not shared with other unencapsulated nasopharyngeal S. pneumoniae. They also possess putative adhesins that have not been described in encapsulated pneumococci. These findings suggest that the unencapsulated strains capable of causing conjunctivitis utilize a pathogenesis strategy substantially different from that described for S. pneumoniae at other infection sites.
The tensile strength of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is mainly maintained by collagen cross-links. Loss of collagen cross-linking combined with other age-related degenerative processes contributes to tissue weakening, biomechanical failure, disc herniation and pain. Exogenous collagen cross-linking has been identified as an effective therapeutic approach for restoring IVD tensile strength. The current state-of-the-art method to assess the extent of collagen cross-linking in tissues requires destructive procedures and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). In this study, we investigated the utility of infrared attenuated total reflection (IR-ATR) spectroscopy as a non-destructive analytical strategy to rapidly evaluate the extent of UV-light-activated riboflavin (B2)-induced collagen crosslinking (UVA-CXL) in bovine IVD samples. Thirty five fresh bovine-tail IVD samples were equally divided into five treatment groups: (i) untreated, (ii) cell culture medium DMEM only, (iii) B2 only, (iv) UV-light only, and (v) UV-light-B2. A total of 674 measurements have been acquired, and were analyzed via partial least squares discriminant analysis. This classification scheme unambiguously identified individual classes with a sensitivity >91% and specificity >92%. The obtained results demonstrate that IR-ATR spectroscopy reliably differentiates between different treatment categories, and promises an excellent tool for potential in vivo, non-destructive, and real-time assessment of exogenous IVD crosslinking. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
PURPOSE: To report outcomes of autologous simple limbal epithelial transplantation (SLET) performed for unilateral limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) at multiple centres worldwide. METHODS: In this retrospective, multicentre, interventional case series, records of patients who had undergone autologous SLET for unilateral LSCD, with a minimum of 6 months of follow-up, were reviewed. The primary outcome measure was clinical success, defined as a completely epithelised, avascular corneal surface. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were constructed and survival probability was calculated. A Cox proportional hazards analysis was done to assess association of preoperative characteristics with risk of failure. Secondary outcome measures included the percentage of eyes achieving visual acuity of 20/200 or better, percentage of eyes gaining two or more Snellen lines and complications encountered. RESULTS: 68 eyes of 68 patients underwent autologous SLET, performed across eight centres in three countries. Clinical success was achieved in 57 cases (83.8%). With a median follow-up of 12 months, survival probability exceeded 80%. Presence of symblepharon (HR 5.8) and simultaneous keratoplasty (HR 10.8) were found to be significantly associated with a risk of failure. 44 eyes (64.7%) achieved a visual acuity of 20/200 or better, and 44 eyes (64.7%) gained two or more Snellen lines. Focal recurrences of pannus were noted in 21 eyes (36.8%) with clinical success. CONCLUSION: Autologous SLET is an effective and safe modality for treatment of unilateral LSCD. Clinical success rates and visual acuity improvement are equal to or better than those reported with earlier techniques.
PURPOSE: To determine the demographic features of patients affected by limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), and to identify the underlying causes of LSCD DESIGN: Retrospective, multi-center case series SETTING: Two large tertiary care ophthalmology hospitals SUBJECTS: Patients with a diagnosis of LSCD presenting from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2014 METHODS: Records of patients with a clinical diagnosis of LSCD were reviewed. Demographic details and clinical features at presentation, as well as the underlying cause of LSCD (if identified) were noted. Descriptive statistical analysis and chart preparation were done. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Type of LSCD (unilateral or bilateral), age and sex of patients, extent of LSCD (clock hours of limbus involved) and underlying cause of LSCD RESULTS: We found 1331 patients with LSCD in the ten year period under study. Unilateral LSCD was more common (791 patients) than bilateral LSCD (540 patients). Out of 1331 patients, 875 (65.74%) were male. The median age of patients was 24 years. Extent of LSCD could be determined in 1849 eyes, of which 1239 eyes (67%) had total LSCD. The underlying cause of LSCD could be identified in 1512 eyes. In cases of unilateral LSCD, ocular surface burns was the commonest identifiable cause ( 83.73%). The leading identifiable causes of bilateral LSCD were ocular surface burns (29.95%), allergic conjunctivitis (29.48%), Stevens Johnson syndrome (SJS) or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) (23.11%), aniridia (9.43%) and mucous membrane pemphigoid (3.54%). Lime ("chuna") injury was responsible for ocular surface burns in 352 (62.08%) out of 567 cases in which the agent was identified. CONCLUSIONS: In our study, unilateral LSCD was more common than bilateral LSCD. Young males were commonly affected, with a majority of eyes suffering from total LSCD. Overall, ocular surface burns are the leading cause of LSCD.Unilateral and bilateral LSCD had a markedly different distribution of causes, necessitating different approaches to management.
PURPOSE: To report endothelial cell loss (ECL) caused by a novel S-stamp preparation technique for Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK). METHODS: Six cadaveric human corneas were prepared for DMEK transplantation using a single standardized technique, including the application of a dry ink gentian violet S-stamp to the stromal side of Descemet membrane. Endothelial cell death was evaluated and quantified using computerized analysis of vital dye staining. RESULTS: ECL caused by the S-stamp was 0.6% (range 0.1%-1.0%), which comprised less than one-tenth of the total ECL caused by our preparation of the DMEK graft from the start to finish, including recovery, prestripping, S-stamping, and trephination (13.7% total ECL, range 9.9%-17.6%). CONCLUSIONS: Our novel S-stamp donor tissue preparation technique is intuitive to learn and holds the promise of preventing iatrogenic primary graft failure due to upside-down grafts without causing unacceptable increases in ECL.
PURPOSE: To describe a case of paraneoplastic pemphigus (PNP) presenting as spontaneous bilateral corneal perforations in a patient with follicular dendritic cell sarcoma. METHODS: Retrospective chart review Results: A 73-year-old Greek woman with a history of follicular dendritic cell sarcoma (FDCS) presented with bilateral corneal perforations and a cicatrizing conjunctivitis. Her diagnosis was consistent with PNP with corneal and conjunctival involvement after a change in her chemotherapy regimen from intravenous cyclophosphamide to gemcitabine. She was treated with a multilayered amniotic membrane in the right eye and cyanoacrylate glue in the left eye. Systemic intravenous cyclophosphamide and oral prednisone were re-started. Both perforations healed but the patient passed away soon after precluding further follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Ocular manifestations of PNP can rarely present with spontaneous corneal perforations. This is the first case of FDCS-associated PNP with corneal involvement. Such cases should be diagnosed expediently and managed with aggressive systemic immunosuppressive therapy.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the visual and anatomical outcomes of Boston keratoprosthesis (Kpro) type 1 reimplantation. DESIGN: Subgroup analysis of multicentre prospective cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: Of 303 eyes that underwent Kpro implantation between January 2003 and July 2008 by 1 of 19 surgeons at 18 medical centres, 13 eyes of 13 patients who underwent reimplantation of Boston Kpro type 1 were compared with 13 eyes of 13 diagnosis-matched patients who underwent initial implantation. METHODS: Forms reporting preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative parameters were prospectively collected and analyzed. Main outcome measures were Kpro retention and logMAR visual acuity. RESULTS: After a mean follow-up time of 17.1 ± 17.6 months, the retention of both initial and repeat Kpro implantation was 92.3% (12/13 in both groups), and 62% of initial implantation and 58% of repeat implantation eyes achieved visual acuity better than 20/200. Vision worse than 20/200 was often due to glaucoma or posterior segment pathology. Best-recorded logMAR visual acuity was significantly improved postoperatively in both groups (p < 0.001), and there was no statistically significant difference in final logMAR visual acuity between the 2 groups (p = 0.89). Sterile keratolysis (n = 4) and fungal infection (n = 5) were the most common causes of initial Kpro failure in the repeat Kpro group. The single failure in the repeat Kpro implantation group was due to fungal keratitis, and in the control group it was related to Kpro extrusion. CONCLUSIONS: Repeat Kpro implantation is a viable option after failed initial Kpro, with visual and anatomical outcomes comparable to those of initial procedures.
PURPOSE: To report the outcomes of prosthetic replacement of the ocular surface ecosystem (PROSE) treatment in pediatric patients with chronic ocular surface disease associated with Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS/TEN). DESIGN: Retrospective, interventional case series. METHODS: Patients aged 18 years or younger seen in consultation for PROSE treatment at a single center between January 1992 and December 2016 with a history of SJS/TEN were reviewed. Demographics, etiology of SJS/TEN, age at treatment milestones, best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) at treatment milestones, and treatment failures were recorded. BCVA at the initial presentation visit was compared to BCVA at the time of PROSE device dispense and at the last recorded visit. RESULTS: Twenty-seven female and 22 male patients were reviewed. Reported etiology was antibiotic (n = 19), antiepileptic (n = 9), antipyretic (n = 9), other (n = 3), and unknown (n = 9). The mean age was 6.4 years at disease onset and 9.3 years at time of initial presentation. The mean duration of follow-up was 5.45 years. The median BCVA at the initial presentation was 0.6 logMAR (20/80 Snellen), and was significantly improved to 0.18 logMAR (20/30 Snellen) at the time a PROSE device was dispensed (P < .0001). The median BCVA at the last recorded visit was significantly improved to 0.18 logMAR (20/30 Snellen, P = .0004). There were 15 patients who failed PROSE treatment (30.6%). CONCLUSIONS: PROSE treatment is feasible in over two thirds of pediatric patients with chronic ocular surface disease related to SJS/TEN and results in significant improvement in vision that is durable over a period of many years.
PURPOSE: Lubricin, a boundary lubricant, is the body's unique antiadhesive, antifibrotic, antifriction, and antiinflammatory glycoprotein. This amphiphile is produced by numerous tissues and acts to regulate a number of processes, such as homeostasis, shear stress, tissue development, innate immunity, inflammation, and wound healing. We hypothesize that lubricin is also synthesized and expressed by the amniotic membrane (AM), which also possesses antiadhesive, antifibrotic, and antiinflammatory properties. We also hypothesize that lubricin, at least in part, mediates these AM capabilities. Our goal was to test our hypothesis. METHODS: We obtained multiple samples of fresh, cryopreserved (CP), and freeze-dried (FD) human AMs, as well as fresh placental tissue as positive controls, and processed them for light microscopy, immunofluorescence, and western blot analyses. We also evaluated the ability of recombinant human lubricin to associate with FD-AMs. RESULTS: Our results demonstrate that all fresh placental, fresh AM, and CP-AM samples contained lubricin. Lubricin was expressed in placental chorionic villi, AM epithelial and stromal cells, and CP-AM epithelia. No lubricin could be detected in FD-AMs but could be restored in FD-AMs after overnight incubation with recombinant human lubricin. CONCLUSIONS: This study supports our hypothesis that lubricin is expressed in human AMs. In addition, our data show that preservation methods influence the extent of this expression. Indeed, the disappearance of lubricin in FD-AMs may explain why dried AM reportedly loses its antiinflammatory and antiscarring abilities. It is possible that lubricin may mediate, at least in part, many of the biological properties of AMs.
PURPOSE: Ocular local anesthetics currently used in routine clinical practice for corneal anesthesia are short acting and their ability to delay corneal healing makes them unsuitable for long-term use. In this study, we examined the effect of the site 1 sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin (TTX) on the duration of corneal anesthesia, applied with either proparacaine (PPC) or the chemical permeation enhancer octyl-trimethyl ammonium bromide (OTAB). The effect of test solutions on corneal healing was also studied. METHODS: Solutions of TTX, PPC, and OTAB, singly or in combination, were applied topically to the rat cornea. The blink response, an indirect measure of corneal sensitivity, was recorded using a Cochet-Bonnet esthesiometer, and the duration of corneal anesthesia was calculated. The effect of test compounds on the rate of corneal epithelialization was studied in vivo after corneal debridement. RESULTS: Combination of TTX and PPC resulted in corneal anesthesia that was 8 to 10 times longer in duration than that from either drug administered alone, whereas OTAB did not prolong anesthesia. The rate of corneal healing was moderately delayed after coadministration of TTX and PPC. CONCLUSIONS: Coadministration of TTX and PPC significantly prolonged corneal anesthesia, but in view of delayed corneal reepithelialization, caution is suggested in the use of the drug combination.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the long-term outcomes of surgical occlusion of lacrimal puncta using thermal cautery in the management of ocular surface diseases. METHODS: We reviewed medical records of 80 consecutive patients from a single academic center who underwent punctal cauterization. Patient demographics, ocular history, symptoms, and signs of ocular surface diseases pre- and post-cauterization were recorded. RESULTS: A total of 80 patients (171 puncta) were included, with an average age of 59 years and a follow-up duration of 27 months. The most common ocular morbidity was ocular graft-versus-host disease (n = 36), followed by primary keratoconjunctivitis sicca (n = 15). Indications for punctal cauterization included plug loss (n = 51), difficulty in plug fitting (n = 11), plug-related complications (n = 6), recanalization of previous cauterization (n = 7), and severe ocular surface disease requiring permanent punctal closure (n = 4). After punctal cauterization, the percentage of eyes with severe (21%) and moderate (25%) dry eye decreased significantly (8% and 19% at 3 months and 6% and 17% at 12 months, P = 0.0006). Fifty-four percent of patients reported improvement in their symptoms. The rate of recanalization was 21% during the follow-up period. The use of topical corticosteroids was associated with higher recanalization rate. Associated complications were limited to temporary pain and swelling. CONCLUSIONS: Punctal cauterization is an effective modality in treating severe ocular surface diseases in patients who repeatedly lose punctal plugs, and it can be easily performed in a clinic setting without major complications. However, cauterization may need to be repeated in up to a quarter of cases because of recanalization.
Recently, we discovered that the cosmetic preservatives, benzalkonium chloride and formaldehyde, are especially toxic to human meibomian gland epithelial cells (HMGECs). Exposure to these agents, at concentrations approved for human use, leads within hours to cellular atrophy and death. We hypothesize that these effects are not unique, and that other cosmetic preservatives also exert adverse effects on HMGECs. Such compounds include parabens, phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin, which have been reported to be toxic to corneal and conjunctival epithelial cells, the liver and kidney, as well as to irritate the eye. To test our hypothesis, we examined the influence of parabens, phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin on the morphology, signaling, survival, proliferation and lipid expression of immortalized (I) HMGECs. These cells were cultured under proliferating or differentiating conditions with varying concentrations of methylparaben, ethylparaben, phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin for up to 5 days. We monitored the signaling ability, appearance, number and neutral lipid content of the IHMGECs, as well as their lysosome accumulation. Our findings show that a 30-min exposure of IHMGECs to these preservatives results in a significant reduction in the activity of the Akt pathway. This effect is dose-dependent and occurs at concentrations equal to (chlorphenesin) and less than (all others) those dosages approved for human use. Further, a 24-h treatment of the IHMGECs with concentrations of methylparaben, ethylparaben, phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin close to, or at, the approved human dose induces cellular atrophy and death. At all concentrations tested, no preservative stimulated IHMGEC proliferation. Of particular interest, it was not possible to evaluate the influence of these preservatives, at close to human approved dosages, on IHMGEC differentiation, because the cells did not survive the treatment. In summary, our results support our hypothesis and show that methylparaben, ethylparaben, phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin are toxic to IHMGECs.