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December 1989

Barbiturates Protect Retinal Cells from Hypoxia in Cell Culture

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Ophthalmology, University of Iowa Hospitals, Iowa City (Drs Pulido and Howe), and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami (Fla) (Drs Fukuda and Puro).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1989;107(12):1809-1812. doi:10.1001/archopht.1989.01070020891033

• A culture system was used to screen for drugs that can protect mammalian retinal cells from damage induced by hypoxia. Using a special incubator, cultures could be made hypoxic for defined periods. Phase contrast photomicroscopy facilitated comparison of retinal cells before hypoxia and 1 to 2 days after hypoxia. Using 2- to 3-week-old cultures, certain glutamate antagonists, anesthetics, calcium blockers, and thiopental sodium were screened for their effect in protecting cells from hypoxia. The most remarkable effect was noted with thiopental. Quantitative measurements showed a significant increase in the percent of cells surviving after exposure to hypoxia in the presence of 100 μmol/L of thiopental sodium compared with control hypoxic cultures—82% vs 59% at 48 hours. A dose-response curve demonstrated maximal effect at 50 μmol/L of thiopental sodium, with toxic effects noted at 200 μmol/L of thiopental sodium. Our results show that thiopental reduces hypoxia-induced damage to retinal cells in culture.

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