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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Apoptotic cell death in the lens epithelium of rat sugar cataract.

Apoptosis of lens epithelial cells (LECs) is implicated in the pathogenesis of several types of cataract formation. The high intracellular levels of polyol induce histological change in the LECs, which is considered the earliest event in sugar cataractogenesis. This study was designed to investigate whether high galactose exposure induces apoptosis in LECs during the development of sugar cataract. The effect of an aldose reductase inhibitor, SNK-860, was also examined. We induced sugar cataract in Sprague-Dawley rats by feeding them a 50% galactose-containing diet with or without SNK-860. The percentage of LECs undergoing apoptosis was measured by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotin-dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) method, and DNA fragmentation analyses were performed. Galactitol levels in the lens epithelium were quantified by gas chromatography. The number of TUNEL-positive cells gradually increased throughout the period of galactose exposure, up to 5 days. DNA fragmentation analysis in LECs of rats fed a galactose-rich diet demonstrated an apparent ladder pattern. SNK-860 reduced the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells, the amount of intracellular galactitol, and the levels of DNA laddering. To explore the mechanism of the apoptotic process, the expression of p53, a potent mediator of apoptosis, was examined. Based on Western blot and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction results, the amount of p53-expression increased at both the protein and mRNA levels after galactose exposure, and the increase in p53-expression was inhibited by SNK-860. Based on these results, we concluded that apoptosis occurs in rat lens epithelial cells following galactose exposure. Furthermore, the reduction of apoptosis by aldose reductase inhibitor suggests that this apoptosis is associated with the accumulation of sugar alcohols. It is probable that the mechanism of apoptosis during sugar cataract formation involves the increased expression of p53.[1]


  1. Apoptotic cell death in the lens epithelium of rat sugar cataract. Takamura, Y., Kubo, E., Tsuzuki, S., Akagi, Y. Exp. Eye Res. (2003) [Pubmed]
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