Concentration Dependence of Vitamin C in Combinations with Vitamin E and Zeaxanthin on Light-Induced Toxicity to Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells


  • This invited paper is part of the Symposium in Print “Retinal Photodamage”

Corresponding author email: (Małgorzata Różanowska)


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of increasing concentration of ascorbate alone and in combinations with α-tocopherol and zeaxanthin on phototoxicity to the retinal pigment epithelium. ARPE-19 cells were exposed to rose bengal and visible light in the presence and absence of antioxidants. Toxicity was quantified by an assay of cell-reductive activity. A 20 min exposure to visible light and photosensitizer decreased cell viability to ca 42%. Lipophilic antioxidants increased viabilities to ca 70%, 61% and 75% for α-tocopherol, zeaxanthin and their combination, respectively. Cell viabilities were ca 70%, 56% and 5% after exposures in the presence of 0.35, 0.7 and 1.4 mm ascorbate, respectively. A 45 min exposure increased cell death to ca 74% and >95% in the absence and presence of ascorbate, respectively. In the presence of ascorbate, zeaxanthin did not significantly affect phototoxicity. α-Tocopherol and its combination with zeaxanthin enhanced protective effects of ascorbate, but did not prevent from ascorbate-mediated deleterious effects. In conclusion, there is a narrow range of concentrations and exposure times where ascorbate exerts photoprotective effects, exceeding which leads to ascorbate-mediated increase in photocytotoxicity. Vitamin E and its combination with zeaxanthin can enhance protective effects of ascorbate, but do not ameliorate its deleterious effects.