PURPOSE. Sulforaphane (SFN) is a therapeutic phytochemical agent for many health conditions. SFN-induced cytotoxicity is shown to have promise in preventing posterior capsule opacification (PCO). In the current study, we aimed to elucidate key processes and mechanisms linking SFN treatment to lens cell death. METHODS. The human lens epithelial cell line FHL124 and central anterior epithelium were used as experimental models. Cell death was assessed by microscopic observation and cell damage/viability assays. Gene or protein levels were assessed by TaqMan RT-PCR or immunoblotting. Mitochondrial networks and DNA damage were assessed by immunofluorescence. Mitochondrial membrane potential, activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) activity, ratio of reduced glutathione (GSH) to oxidized glutathione (GSSG), and glutathione reductase (GR) activity were measured using different light reporter assays. SFN metabolites were analyzed by LC-MS/MS. RESULTS. Treatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a reactive oxygen species scavenger, prevented SFN-induced cell death in both models. NAC also significantly protected FHL124 cells from SFN-induced mitochondrial dysfunctions, endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS), DNA damage and autophagy. SFN significantly depleted GSH, the major antioxidant in the eye, and reduced GR activity, despite doubling its protein levels. The most abundant SFN conjugate detected in lens cells following SFN application was SFN-GSH. The addition of GSH protected lens cells from all SFN-induced cellular events. CONCLUSIONS. SFN depletes GSH levels in lens cells through conjugation and inhibition of GR activity. This leads to increased reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress that trigger mitochondrial dysfunction, ERS, autophagy, and DNA damage, leading to cell death. In summary, the work presented provides a mechanistic understanding to support the therapeutic application of SFN for PCO and other disorders.
- Oxidative stress
- Posterior capsule opacification
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience