Plasma membrane disruption underlies injury of the corneal endothelium by ultrasound

Kiyofumi Saito, Katsuya Miyake, Paul L. McNeil, Keiichiro Kato, Keiko Yago, Naonori Sugai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The nature and the extent of acute injury to corneal endothelial cells caused by exposure to ultrasound radiation were characterized, as well as the long-term reaction of these cells to this form of injury. It was found that the degree of lethal cell injury induced by ultrasound scaled with exposure intensity and duration. Immediate changes in plasma membrane permeability were induced by ultrasound exposure. This ultrasound-induced permeability change was, however, transient in many cells, allowing them to trap and retain a normally impermeant tracer, fluorescein dextran, in cytosol. Microvilli were present on ultrasound treated cells in far greater density than on control cells, characteristic of exocytosis-based resealing. Cultures containing a majority of transiently permeabilized endothelial cells were morphologically indistinguishable from untreated control cultures, and the fluorescein dextran-labeled cells in these populations locomoted and divided normally. We conclude that cell death due to ultrasound exposure can occur rapidly via a necrotic mechanism that can be attributed to mechanically induced damage to the plasma membrane. However, not all cells injured become necrotic: some survive and appear to behave normally after exposure. Conditions that favor plasma membrane disruption resealing, e.g. that result in sub-lethal rather than lethal cell injury, may mitigate the reduction in corneal endothelial cell density consequent on phacoemulsification and aspiration surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-437
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental eye research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Corneal endothelial cell
  • Injury
  • Plasma membrane
  • Resealing
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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