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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1996 Mar 1;1315(2):87-99.

Failure to withstand oxidative stress induced by phospholipid hydroperoxides as a possible cause of the lens opacities in systemic diseases and ageing.

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Laboratory of Pathophysiology and Biochemistry, Moscow Helmholtz Research Institute of Eye Diseases, Russia.


Lipid peroxidation (LPO) is a causative factor of cataract. The increased concentrations of primary molecular LPO products (diene conjugates, lipid hydroperoxides) and end fluorescent LPO products, were detected in the lipid moieties of the aqueous humor samples obtained from patients with senile and complicated cataracts as compared to normal donors. The degrees of lens clouding were assessed quantitatively by measuring the optical density indices and areas of equidensities using digital image analysis. Human cataractous lenses showed decreased activity of glutathione peroxidase (GPX, catalyzing reduction of organic hydroperoxides including hydroperoxides of lipids). The apparent Km for tert-butylhydroperoxide was 0.434 mM for human normal and cataractous lens GPX. When lenses were exposed for 1 h at 37 degrees C to linoleic acid hydroperoxide (LOOH, 0.5 mM) or egg phosphatidyl-choline hydroperoxide (PLOOH, 1 micro mol per 112 micro mol of phospholipid) in liposomes suspended in the incubation medium, normal, immature and mature human cataractous lenses showed a significant loss in the residual content of liberated LOOH to 62%, 38% or 17%, correspondingly, but little or no reduction was observed with PLOOH in liposomal membranes. Human, rabbit or mice transparent or immature cataractous lenses induced significantly more absorbance changes in conjugated diene, iodometric and TBA-reactive substance measurements when incubated with liposomal membranes which were decreased in the presence of free radical scavengers and antioxidant enzymes (EDTA, SOD, L-carnosine, chelated iron, catalase). Injection into the vitreous body of the rabbit eye of a suspension of liposomes prepared from phospholipids containing LPO products induced the development of posterior subcapsular cataract. Saturated liposomes did not cause clouding of the lens. This modelling of cataract was accompanied by accumulation of fluorescing LPO products in the vitreous body, aqueous humor and the lens and also by a fall in the concentration of GSH in the lens. The peroxidative damage to the lens cell membranes and biomolecules induced in the lack of reductive detoxification of phospholipid hydroperoxides is proposed as the triggering mechanism of cataractogenesis.

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