Purpose: To investigate whether the barrier function of the corneal epithelium is disrupted in galactosemic rats, and to assess the effects of the aldose reductase inhibitor CT-112, in the form of eyedrops, on the corneal epithelial barrier in galactosemic rats.
Methods: Forty rats were divided into 3 groups based on their diet: a control group, a galactose group and a CT-112 treated galactose group (CT-112 group). After 3 weeks, 31 rats from the 3 groups were subjected to fluorophotometry, in which fluorescein (F) was instilled into one eye and carboxyfluorescein (CF) was instilled into the other eye in a random fashion. The F and CF uptakes were then measured at the central cornea by a slit-lamp fluorophotometer. Three rats from each group were exposed to a horseradish peroxidase (HRP) solution for one hour, and the HRP-reactive substances within the corneal epithelium were also examined via electron microscopy.
Results: There was significantly higher F uptake in the galactose group than in the control (p = 0.003) and CT-112 groups (p = 0.028). There were no significant differences in CF uptake between the 3 groups. Histologically, HRP-reactive substances were found in much greater quantities within the superficial corneal cells of the galactose group than in the control or CT-112 groups.
Conclusions: These results suggest that cell membrane disruption, as detected by F uptake and HRP penetration, was found in the superficial corneal cells of galactose-fed rats, and that intercellular junction integrity can be assayed by CF uptake and histological evaluation. Moreover, CT-112 eyedrops were effective in improving the corneal epithelial barrier dysfunction of galactose-fed rats.