Due to invasive and painful procedures during in vivo rabbit eye irritation test, in vitro alternative methods have been widely investigated. Recently, 3D reconstructed human cornea-like epitheliums (RhCEs) garner a huge attention. RhCEs employ the tissue viability as a primary endpoint to determine ocular irritancy but additional biomarkers may improve its predictive capacity. Here, we explored lipid biomarkers for ocular irritants in MCTT HCE™ RhCE model. Three irritants; sodium lauryl sulfate, benzalkonium chloride and triton X-100 were selected to represent anionic, cationic and non-ionic detergent respectively. After treating MCTT HCE™ with irritants, the alteration of lipids in the treated tissues was examined with Nile Red staining, which revealed the depletion of corneal lipids. We further quantitated the release of ceramides and free fatty acids, major lipid components of cornea, into the medium during the post-treatment incubation, employing a sensitive UPLC-MS/MS method. Among 44 lipid species, nervonoylceramide (C24:1Cer) was found to be released commonly by all three irritants in a concentration-dependent manner. Tests with 10 additional reference substances further supported that C24:1Cer release was significantly correlated with viability. Examination of the genes involved in the biosynthetic pathway for C24:1Cer revealed that stearoylCoA desaturase (SCD) and elongase1 (ELOVL1) were upregulated, suggesting that lipids and related genes may be employed as biomarkers for ocular irritants.
- 3D reconstructed human cornea-like epithelium
- Eye irritation
- Nervonoylceramide. C24:1 ceramide