Arsenic trioxide initiates ER stress responses, perturbs calcium signalling and promotes apoptosis in human lens epithelial cells

Hong Zhang, George Duncan, Lixin Wang, Ping Liu, Hao Cui, John R. Reddan, Bao Feng Yang, I. Michael Wormstone

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Identification of novel agents to eradicate the residual lens cell population following cataract surgery provides one mode of preventing PCO formation. The present study investigated the biological mechanism of As2O3 cytotoxicity in a human lens cell line and capsular bag system. FHL 124 cell survival was assessed by quantification of total protein content, a cell population measure. Gene changes were detected by Real-time PCR; apoptosis by TUNEL assays. Intracellular calcium was measured by real-time fluorimetric single-cell digital imaging techniques after Fura-2 incorporation. In vitro human capsular bags were generated from donor eyes, which involved sham cataract surgery then use of the Perfect Capsule device to form a closed system to deliver As2O3 for 2 min. On-going observations were by phase-contrast microscopy. Cellular architecture was examined by fluorescence immunocytochemistry. FHL 124 cells demonstrated a dose-dependent sensitivity to As2O3 exposure. A 2 min exposure of As2O3 to cells within the capsular bag, using the perfect capsule system, resulted in total cell death when used at 100 mM. As2O3 provoked an ER stress response identified through an upregulation of known genes. As2O3 depleted the calcium store and consequently lead to reduced calcium signalling. As2O3 increased rates of apoptosis. Arsenic trioxide provokes ER stress that leads to down-regulation of calcium signalling resulting in apoptosis. The application of As2O3 to cells within the capsular bag for a 2 min window using the Perfect Capsule system predicts putative therapeutic benefit in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-835
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • apoptosis
  • calcium
  • human
  • lens
  • posterior capsule opacification
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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