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Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science

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Since tissue oxygen levels are believed to play a pivotal role in new vessel growth in several situations, we studied the effect of several oxygen concentrations (0, 10, 21, 50, 75, or 100%) on corneal vascularization induced in the rat by chemical cautery. We achieved this by perfusing known concentrations of oxygen through goggles fitted over both eyes of the rat after corneal cauterization. Neovascularization was measured in flat corneal preparations with India ink-filled vessels 4 days postcautery using computerized image analysis. The angiogenic response of rats whose eyes were continuously exposed to 0-75% oxygen were not significantly different from each other. The mean response in corneas exposed to 100% oxygen was 10-21% lower than all of the other groups, and this difference was statistically significant when compared to oxygen concentrations of 0, 21 and 75%. The reason for the inhibitory effect of 100% oxygen remains to be determined, but it may represent a toxic effect of oxygen free radicals on the vascular endothelium.