Blue visible light damage to retinal pigment epithelial cells occurs through a photooxidative mechanism and the resultant damage is hypothesized to induce or exacerbate age-related macular degeneration. The purpose of the present study was to identify changes in the cell growth and the expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in cultured human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells as a result of both blue and red light irradiation. HGF is a growth factor and neurotrophic factor that stimulates growth of various ocular cells and promotes the survival of RPE and retinal neurons. Early passages of human RPE cells were exposed to blue light (460 nm) and red light (640 nm). Nonirradiated cells were used as controls. After 24 and 48 h, conditioned medium was collected and the amount of HGF was measured by ELISA. Cells were detached from the well and counted. Cell viability was evaluated by trypan-blue exclusion study. Blue light at dosage of 63 J/cm2 significantly inhibited the growth of RPE cells without affecting of cell viability. Amounts of HGF in the culture medium were significantly inhibited by blue-light irradiation at the dosage from 32 to 63 J/cm2. Red light at a dose of 174 J/cm2 causes a nonsignificant inhibition of growth of RPE cells and a slight decrease of secretion of HGF. As HGF promotes survival of RPE cells and retinal neurons, the inhibition of production of HGF by visible light, especially by blue light, may enhance the phototoxic effects of visible light on the RPE and retinal neurons.
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Vol. 82 • No. 5