In this study the interaction of the preservative sodium chlorite with unsaturated lipids and glutathione was investigated, in comparison with peroxides, sodium hypochlorite, and benzalkonium chloride. The aim was to determine whether the action of sodium chlorite could involve membrane lipid damage or antioxidant depletion, and how this related to toxicity in both mammalian and microbial cells. The treatment of phospholipids with chlorite yielded low levels of hydroperoxides, but sodium chlorite oxidized the thiol-containing antioxidant glutathione to its disulfide form very readily in vitro, with a 1:4 oxidant:GSH stoichiometry. In cultured cells, sodium chlorite also caused a substantial depletion of intracellular glutathione, whereas lipid oxidation was not very prominent. Sodium chlorite had a lower toxicity to ocular mammalian cells than benzalkonium chloride, which could be responsible for the different effects of long-term application in the eye. The fungal cells, which were most resistant to sodium chlorite, maintained higher percentage levels of intracellular glutathione during treatment than the mammalian cells. The results show that sodium chlorite can cause oxidative stress in cells, and suggest that cell damage is more likely to be due to interaction with thiol compounds than with cell membrane lipids. The study also provides important information about the differential resistance of ocular cells and microbes to various preservatives and oxidants.
- conjunctival epithelial cells
- corneal epithelial cells
- lipid peroxidation
- oxidative stress
- sodium chlorite