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Exp Eye Res. 2007 Dec;85(6):861-8. Epub 2007 Sep 2.

Oxindolealanine in age-related human cataracts.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The present study was performed in order to obtain structural and quantitative information regarding the modifications that take place in the human lens as a result of tryptophan oxidation. In particular, the early tryptophan oxidation product, oxindolealanine (OIA) has been detected in lyophilized and hydrolyzed cataractous lenses by mass spectrometry. OIA was confirmed in human cataract samples by observing its ion (m/z 221), fragmentation pattern and absorption spectrum. Quantitative results indicate that there are differences in the amounts of OIA in the nucleus versus the cortex in human cataractous lenses. Expressed as a ratio to the level of phenylalanine (Phe), the nucleus has more than one and a half times greater levels of OIA as compared to the cortex [nucleus=(3.7+/-0.7)x10(-2) versus cortex=(2.3+/-0.3)x10(-2)]. Furthermore, the average value for the OIA/Phe ratio in the calf lens (controls) was (0.8+/-0.2)x10(-2) as compared to (3.7+/-0.7)x10(-2) in human cataractous lens nucleus (p<0.05). The quantitative results correspond to a 4.6-fold increase of OIA in human cataractous lenses. In a separate series of experiments using HPLC with photodiode array (PDA) detection only, the differences in OIA levels in cataract nucleus versus cortex and cataracts versus controls closely matched the LC/MS data. The results suggest that OIA levels are elevated in human cataractous lenses thus providing further evidence to implicate tryptophan oxidation in this process.

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