Quantitative Action Spectroscopy Reveals ARPE-19 Sensitivity to Long-Wave 1 Ultraviolet Radiation at 350 nm and 380 nm

Graham Anderson*, Andrew McLeod, Pierre Olivier Bagnaninchi, Baljean Dhillon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure in the aetiology of retinal degeneration has been debated for decades with epidemiological evidence failing to find a clear consensus for or against it playing a role. A key reason for this is a lack of foundational research into the response of living retinal tissue to UVR in regard to modern ageing-specific parameters of tissue function. We therefore explored the response of cultured retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), the loss of which heralds advanced visual decline, to specific wavelengths of UVR across the UV-B and UV-A bands found in natural sunlight. Using a bespoke in vitro UVR exposure apparatus coupled with bandpass filters we exposed the immortalised RPE cell line, ARPE-19, to 10 nm bands of UVR between 290 and 405 nm. Physical cell dynamics were assessed during exposure in cells cultured upon specialist electrode culture plates which allow for continuous, non-invasive electrostatic interrogation of key cell parameters during exposure such as monolayer coverage and tight-junction integrity. UVR exposures were also utilised to quantify wavelength-specific effects using a rapid cell viability assay and a phenotypic profiling assay which was leveraged to simultaneously quantify intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), nuclear morphology, mitochondrial stress, epithelial integrity and cell viability as part of a phenotypic profiling approach to quantifying the effects of UVR. Electrical impedance assessment revealed unforeseen detrimental effects of UV-A, beginning at 350 nm, alongside previously demonstrated UV-B impacts. Cell viability analysis also highlighted increased effects at 350 nm as well as 380 nm. Effects at 350 nm were further substantiated by high content image analysis which highlighted increased mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. We conclude that ARPE-19 cells exhibit a previously uncharacterised sensitivity to UV-A radiation, specifically at 350 nm and somewhat less at 380 nm. If upheld in vivo, such sensitivity will have impacts upon geoepidemiological risk scoring of macular sensitivity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14223
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2022


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