Effect of vital dyes on retinal pigmented epithelial cell viability and apoptosis: Implications for chromovitrectomy

Fernando M. Penha, Marianne Pons, Elaine De Paula Fiod Costa, Eduardo B. Rodrigues, Mauricio Maia, Maria E. Marin-Castanõ, Michel Eid Farah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate the in vitro effect of vital dyes on toxicity and apoptosis in a human retinal pigment epithelial cell line. Methods: ARPE-19 cells were exposed to brilliant blue (BBG), Evans Blue (EB), bromophenol blue (BroB), indocyanine green (ICG), infracyanine green (IfCG), light green (LG), fast green (FG), indigo carmine (IC) and Congo red (CR). Balanced salt solution was used as the control. Five different concentrations and 2 exposure times were tested. Cell viability was determined by the MTS (1-solution methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium) assay and apoptosis by Bax expression on Western blot. Results: All dyes significantly reduced cell viability after 3 min of exposure at all concentrations (p < 0.01), except for BBG that was safe at concentrations up to 0.25 mg/ml and CR up to 0.05 mg/ml, while LG was safe at all concentrations. Toxicity was higher after 30 min of exposure. Expression of Bax was upregulated after all dye exposures, except BBG; ICG had the highest Bax expression (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Overall the safest dye was BBG followed by LG, IfCG, FG, CR, IC, BroB, EB and ICG. ICG was toxic at all concentrations and exposure times tested. Moreover, BBG was the only dye that did not induce apoptosis in ARPE-19 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Apr 18 2013


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell viability
  • Retinal pigment epithelium
  • Vital dyes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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