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Mol Vis. 2007 Jul 12;13:1121-9.

Drevogenin D prevents selenite-induced oxidative stress and calpain activation in cultured rat lens.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, Kerala, India.



Selenite-induced cataractogenesis is mediated by oxidative stress, accumulation of calcium and activation of lenticular calpains. Calpains are a super family of Ca2+ dependent proteases, which are involved in lens protein proteolysis and insolubilization. Many inhibitors could prevent calpain-induced proteolysis of alpha- and beta-crystallins in rodent cataracts. Evaluating natural sources with antioxidant property and subsequent prevention of calpain activation may lead to the development of safer and more effective agents against cataractogenesis. There are no reports on the protective role of bioactive components against calpain-mediated proteolysis and subsequent cataractogenesis. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the role of Drevogenin D, a triterpenoid aglycone, isolated from Dregea volubilis in preventing selenite-induced, calcium-activated, calpain-mediated proteolysis in cultured rat lenses.


Lenses were extracted from Sprague-Dawley strain rats at the age of one month and were organ cultured in M-199 medium with HEPES buffer. The lenses were divided into three groups with eight lenses in each group as follows: lenses cultured in a normal medium (GI), lenses cultured in a sodium selenite supplemented medium (GII), and lenses cultured in a medium supplemented with sodium selenite and Drevogenin D-treated (GIII). Changes to transparency and opacity formation of lenses were monitored under microscopic observation. At the end of the experiment, biochemical parameters such as activity of lens superoxide dismutase (SOD), lens Ca2+ ATPase, concentration of Ca2+, levels of sulfhydryl content, and thiobarbituric acid reacting substances (TBARS) were determined. Changes to casein zymography for calpains, immunoblot for Lp82, and SDS-PAGE of lens water soluble protein fraction (WSF) were also done.


Microscopic evaluation of lens morphology showed that Drevogenin D prevented the opacification in G-III. Drevogenin D inhibited the accumulation of calcium, the activation of calpain system, and lipid peroxidation. Activity of Ca2+ ATPase, SOD, and SDS-PAGE profile of water soluble proteins was normalized following treatment with Drevogenin D.


Selenite-induced cataractogenesis is mediated by oxidative stress leading to a decrease in the activity of Ca2+ ATPase, resulting in the accumulation of calcium and the subsequent activation of lenticular calpains. The results obtained indicated that Drevogenin D treatment was effective in protecting the lens proteins by controlling stress-induced protein oxidation, maintenance of Ca2+ ATPase activity, calcium accumulation, lipid peroxidation, and prevention of calpain activation. Hence, Drevogenin D can be used as a potential therapeutic agent against oxidative stress-induced cataract.

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