Intravitreal Injection of Normal Saline Induces Retinal Degeneration in the C57BL/6J Mouse

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Purpose: To investigate the adverse effect of intravitreal injection of normal saline (NS) and phosphate buffered saline (PBS) in mouse eyes.

Methods: NS or PBS was injected intravitreally into C57BL/6J mouse eyes. Retinal lesions were monitored by fundus imaging, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), and histological investigations. Retinal immune gene expression was determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The toxic effect of NS and PBS or retinal protein from NS- or PBS-injected eyes on retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) was tested in B6-RPE-07 mouse RPE cell cultures.

Results: Intravitreal injection of NS dose-dependently induced localized retinal lesion in mice. Histological investigations revealed multiple vacuoles in photoreceptor outer segments and RPE cells. The lesions recovered over time and by 3 weeks post injection the majority of lesions vanished in eyes receiving 1 μl NS. Inflammatory genes, including TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, iNOS, and VEGF were upregulated in NS injected eyes. Intravitreal injection of PBS did not cause any pathology. The treatment of B6-RPE07 cells with 30% PBS or 30% NS did not affect RPE viability. However, incubation of 1-μg/ml retinal protein from NS-injected eyes, but not PBS-injected eyes induced RPE cell death.

Conclusion: NS is toxic to the C57BL/6J mouse retina and should not be used as a vehicle for intraocular injection. PBS is not toxic to the retina and is a preferred vehicle.

Translational Relevance: NS is not a physiological solution for intraocular injection in the C57BL/6J mice and questions its suitability for intraocular injection in other species, including human.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Vision Science & Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • intraocular injection, retinal pigment epithelium, toxicity, photoreceptors, saline

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