Cytotoxic Effect of Latanoprost on Human Corneal Stromal Cells in vitro and its Possible Mechanisms

Curr Eye Res. 2017 Apr;42(4):534-541. doi: 10.1080/02713683.2016.1225770. Epub 2016 Oct 17.


Purpose: To investigate the cytotoxic effect of latanoprost on corneal stroma and its underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms using non-transfected human corneal stromal (HCS) cells as an in vitro model.

Methods: After HCS cells were treated with latanoprost at concentrations varying from 50 mg/l (clinical therapeutic dosage) to 0.78125 mg/l, and cell morphology, cell viability, and cell cycle were detected by light microscopy, methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium assay, and flow cytometry (FCM) with propidium iodide (PI) staining, respectively. Meanwhile, alterations in plasma membrane permeability, phosphatidylserine (PS) orientation, DNA integrality, and cell ultrastructure were examined by acridine orange (AO)/ethidium bromide (EB) double staining, FCM with Annexin-V/propidium iodide (PI) staining, DNA electrophoresis, and transmission electron microscopy. Furthermore, caspase activation, mitochondrial transmembrane potential (MTP), and expression of pro-apoptotic regulators were determined by ELISA, FCM with 5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-1,1',3,3'-tetraethybenzimida (JC-1) staining, and Western blot, respectively.

Results: Latanoprost above concentrations of 3.125 mg/l can induce dose- and time-dependent morphological abnormality, growth retardation, viability decline, and plasma membrane permeability elevation of HCS cells. Moreover, latanoprost can arrest the cell cycle of these cells at S phase and induce PS externalization, DNA fragmentation, and apoptotic body formation of the cells. Furthermore, latanoprost can induce activation of caspase-3, -8 and -9; disruption of MTP; downregulation of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2; upregulation of pro-apoptotic Bax; and cytoplasmic cytochrome c release.

Conclusions: Latanoprost above and at 3.125 mg/l (1/16 of its clinical therapeutic dosage) has a dose- and time-dependent cytotoxicity to HCS cells by inducing death receptor-mediated mitochondria-dependent apoptosis, which should be used with great caution in clinical situations to avoid undesired damages to HCS cells.

Keywords: Apoptosis; cytotoxicity; human corneal stromal cells; latanoprost; mitochondrion-dependent pathway.

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / toxicity*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Corneal Keratocytes / drug effects*
  • Corneal Keratocytes / metabolism
  • Corneal Keratocytes / pathology
  • Corneal Stroma / drug effects*
  • Corneal Stroma / metabolism
  • Corneal Stroma / pathology
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Latanoprost
  • Prostaglandins F, Synthetic / toxicity*
  • Time Factors


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Prostaglandins F, Synthetic
  • Latanoprost
  • Caspases