Pathology of ocular irritation with acetone, cyclohexanol, parafluoroaniline, and formaldehyde in the rabbit low-volume eye test

J. K. Maurer, A. Molai, R. D. Parker, L. Li, G. J. Carr, Walter M Petroll, Harrison D Cavanagh, J. V. Jester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


The ocular irritation responses to 11 different surfactants and two concentrations of acetic acid and sodium hydroxide have been shown to depend on the extent of initial injury, despite marked differences in the processes leading to tissue damage. The purpose of these studies was to determine the extent to which this fundamental relationship applies to other nonsurfactants. Ten μl of acetone (ACT), cyclohexanol (CY), parafluoroaniline (PF), or 37% formaldehyde (FA) was directly applied to the cornea of the right eye of each rabbit. Eyes and eyelids were macroscopically scored for signs of irritation beginning 3 hours after dosing and periodically until recovery or 35 days. Tissues were obtained for light microscopic examination after 3 hours and on days 1, 3, and 35. Initial corneal injury was characterized quantitatively at 3 hours and 1 day using in vivo confocal microscopy (CM) and by postmortem quantitation of dead corneal epithelial cells and keratocytes using a Live-Dead Assay (L/D, Molecular Probes) and scanning laser CM. Corneal changes over time were characterized quantitatively using in vivo CM performed at 3 hours and 1, 3, 7, 14, and 35 days. The changes with ACT were consistent with mild irritation. Corneal injury was limited to the epithelium and superficial stroma, with the mean normalized depth of injury (NDI) being less than 10% with the majority of regions showing no stromal injury. Changes with CY and PF were consistent with moderate to severe irritation, and FA caused severe irritation. Specifically, corneal injury by CY and PF tended to involve the epithelium and anterior stroma, with the mean NDI being 10.4% to 23.8%, while injury with FA involved the epithelium, deep stroma, and at times the endothelium. Interestingly, with FA significantly less injury was observed at 3 hours with a dramatic increase in injury observed at 1 day and thereafter. In conclusion, these results continue to support and extend our hypothesis that ocular irritation is principally defined by the extent of initial injury despite clear differences in the means by which irritants cause tissue damage. We believe this approach can be applied to developing alternative assays based on injury to ex vivo eyes or injury to an in vitro corneal equivalent system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-199
Number of pages13
JournalToxicologic Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2001


  • Animal alternatives
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Conjunctiva
  • Cornea
  • Eye testing
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Toxicology
  • Cell Biology

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