Investigative ophthalmology & visual science

Effects of Benzo(e)Pyrene, a toxic component of cigarette smoke, on human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro.

PMID 18586875


To better understand the cellular and molecular basis for the epidemiologic association between cigarette smoke and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the authors examined the effects of Benzo(e)Pyrene (B(e)P), a toxic element in cigarette smoke, on human retinal pigment epithelial cells (ARPE-19). ARPE-19 cells were cultured in Dulbecco modified Eagle medium containing 10% fetal bovine serum. Cells were treated for 24 hours with 1000 microM, 400 microM, 200 microM, and 100 microM B(e)P. Cell viability was determined by a trypan blue dye-exclusion assay. Activities of caspase-3/7, caspase-8, caspase-9, and caspase-12 were measured by a fluorescence image scanner, and DNA laddering was evaluated by electrophoresis on 3% agarose gel. The mean percentage of cell viabilities of ARPE-19 cells was decreased in a dose-dependent manner after exposure to B(e)P at the higher concentrations of 1000 microM (20.0 +/- 0.4; P < 0.001), 400 microM (35.6 +/- 6.4; P < 0.001), and 200 microM (58.7 +/- 2.3; P < 0.001) but not at 100 microM (95.9 +/- 0.7; P > 0.05) compared with the equivalent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)-treated control cultures. There were significant increases in caspase-3/7, -8, -9, and -12 activities compared with the DMSO-treated controls (P < 0.001). DNA laddering revealed bands at 200-bp intervals. These results show that B(e)P is a toxicant to human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro. It causes cell death and induces apoptosis by the involvement of multiple caspase pathways.