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A novel murine model for contact lens wear reveals clandestine IL-1R dependent corneal parainflammation and susceptibility to microbial keratitis upon inoculation with Pseudomonas aeruginosa



Contact lens wear carries a risk of complications, including corneal infection. Solving these complications has been hindered by limitations of existing animal models. Here, we report development of a new murine model of contact lens wear.


C57BL/6 mice were fitted with custom-made silicone-hydrogel contact lenses with or without prior inoculation with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1-GFP). Contralateral eyes served as controls. Corneas were monitored for pathology, and examined ex vivo using high-magnification, time-lapse imaging. Fluorescent reporter mice allowed visualization of host cell membranes and immune cells. Lens-colonizing bacteria were detected by viable counts and FISH. Direct-colony PCR was used for bacterial identification.


Without deliberate inoculation, lens-wearing corneas remained free of visible pathology, and retained a clarity similar to non-lens wearing controls. CD11c-YFP reporter mice revealed altered numbers, and distribution, of CD11c-positive cells in lens-wearing corneas after 24 h. Worn lenses showed bacterial colonization, primarily by known conjunctival or skin commensals. Corneal epithelial cells showed vacuolization during lens wear, and after 5 days, cells with phagocyte morphology appeared in the stroma that actively migrated over resident keratocytes that showed altered morphology. Immunofluorescence confirmed stromal Ly6G-positive cells after 5 days of lens wear, but not in MyD88 or IL-1R gene-knockout mice. P. aeruginosa-contaminated lenses caused infectious pathology in most mice from 1 to 13 days.


This murine model of contact lens wear appears to faithfully mimic events occurring during human lens wear, and could be valuable for experiments, not possible in humans, that help solve the pathogenesis of lens-related complications.

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