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

The role of ascorbic acid in senile cataract.

The reductone ascorbic acid, present in the crystalline lens in concentrations higher than those of glucose, is capable of undergoing nonenzymatic "browning" in the presence of lenticular proteins. We studied the nonenzymatic browning with ascorbate in model systems employing bovine serum albumin and lens crystallins. When bovine serum albumin, alpha-crystallin, or gamma-crystallin was incubated with [14C]ascorbic acid, the formation of yellow and then brown condensation products appeared to correlate with increasing protein-associated radioactivity. The fluorescence spectrum of these products was similar to that of homogenates of human cataractous lenses. We suggest that the nonenzymatic reaction of lens crystallins with ascorbic acid may contribute, at least in part, to the color changes of aging lenses and to the physical lenticular deterioration leading to senile cataract. High dietary intake of ascorbic acid did not affect the fluorescence spectrum of murine lenses; thus, we assume that the speed and extent of the lenticular browning reactions must depend on a deterioration of other factors of the multicomponent antioxidant system of the eye.[1]


  1. The role of ascorbic acid in senile cataract. Bensch, K.G., Fleming, J.E., Lohmann, W. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1985) [Pubmed]
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