Toxic effects of subconjunctival 5-fluorouracil and mitomycin C on ciliary body of rats

Jaime Levy, Zvi Tessler, Gideon Rosenthal, Itamar Klemperer, Howard J. Zirkin, Leonid Kachko, Tova Lifshitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: The effects of subconjunctival injection of mitomycin C and different concentrations of 5-fluorouracil on the epithelium of the ciliary body of twenty Sprague Dawley SD rats was studied. Methods: Twenty rats were divided into four treatment groups. The first three groups received 0.2 ml of 5, 10, and 30 mg of 5-fluorouracil subconjunctivally respectively, and the fourth group 0.2 ml of 0.4 mg/ml mitomycin C subconjunctivally. The right eye received 0.2 ml of the antimetabolite, while the left eye was injected with 0.2 ml of saline subconjunctivally, as a control. The eyes were examined histologically, in a masked fashion, by light and by transmission electron microscopy. In each treatment group, two eyes were examined after one week, and three eyes were examined one month after the subconjunctival injection. Results: Electron microscopy revealed toxic effects in the epithelium of the ciliary body of all treatment groups. The 5-fluorouracil group revealed focal mitochondrial edema, enlargement of intercellular spaces, and dilatation of intracellular spaces. The mitomycin C group showed pyknotic nuclei, enlargement of intercellular spaces, and irregular flattened epithelial cells. The severity of changes correlated with concentration and length of exposure. No pathology was found by light microscopy in all groups. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that subconjunctival antimetabolites mitomycin C and 5-fluorouracil can penetrate the sclera and exert toxic effects on the epithelium of the ciliary body, even in low doses. These changes were only apparent by electron microscopy and were still present one month after the injection. These findings may contribute to the theory that the application of antimetabolites during or after surgery has a direct effect on the epithelium of the ciliary body, besides its known effect on the conjunctiva. Further studies are needed to evaluate its effect on intraocular pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-203
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Ophthalmology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2001


  • 5-fluorouracil
  • Ciliary body
  • Electron and light microscopy
  • Mitomycin C
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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