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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role in tissue inflammation. In this study, we measured the intracellular level of ROS in herpes stromal keratitis (HSK) corneas and determined the outcome of manipulating ROS level on HSK severity. Our results showed the predominance of ROS generation in neutrophils but not CD4 T cells in HSK corneas. NADPH oxidase 2 (NOX2) enzyme is known to generate ROS in myeloid cells. Our results showed baseline expression of different NOX2 subunits in uninfected corneas. After corneal herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infection, an enhanced expression of NOX2 subunits was detected in infected corneas. Furthermore, flow cytometry results showed a higher level of gp91 (Nox2 subunit) protein in neutrophils from HSK corneas, suggesting the involvement of NOX2 in generating ROS. However, no significant decrease in ROS level was noticed in neutrophils from HSV-1-infected gp91-/- mice than in C57BL/6J (B6) mice, suggesting NOX2 is not the major contributor in generating ROS in neutrophils. Next, we used diphenyleneiodonium (DPI), a flavoenzyme inhibitor, to pharmacologically manipulate the ROS levels in HSV-1-infected mice. Surprisingly, the neutrophils from peripheral blood and corneas of the DPI-treated group exhibited an increased level of ROS than the vehicle-treated group of infected B6 mice. Excessive ROS is known to cause cell death. Accordingly, DPI treatment resulted in a significant decrease in neutrophil frequency in peripheral blood and corneas of infected mice and was associated with reduced corneal pathology. Together, our results suggest that regulating ROS levels in neutrophils can ameliorate HSK severity. IMPORTANCE Neutrophils are one of the primary immune cell types involved in causing tissue damage after corneal HSV-1 infection. This study demonstrates that intracellular ROS production in the neutrophils in HSK lesions is not NOX2 dependent. Furthermore, manipulating ROS levels in neutrophils ameliorates the severity of HSK lesions. Our findings suggest that excessive intracellular ROS in neutrophils disrupt redox homeostasis and affect their survival, resulting in a decrease in HSK lesion severity.


Mashidur Rana, Mizumi Setia, Pratima K Suvas, Anish Chakraborty, Susmit Suvas. Diphenyleneiodonium Treatment Inhibits the Development of Severe Herpes Stromal Keratitis Lesions. Journal of virology. 2022 Sep 14;96(17):e0101422

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PMID: 35946937

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