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Exp Eye Res. 1996 Jan;62(1):39-45.

Decreased 3 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in peripheral blood lymphocytes from patients with primary open angle glaucoma.

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Department of Biochemistry, Graduate School of Health Sciences, New York Medical College, Valhalla 10595, USA.


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) patients have reduced 3 alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3 alpha-HSD) activity as was previously found in POAG-derived cultured trabecular meshwork cells. The availability of PBL from both POAG and control patients makes this a useful system for studying the association of decreased 3 alpha-HSD activity with POAG. PBL were isolated from the venous blood of 17 POAG patients and 22 non-glaucoma controls and assayed for 3 alpha-HSD activity with tritiated 5 beta-dihydrocortisol as a substrate. The mean 3 alpha-HSD activity +/- S.E.M., expressed in comparable units of specific activity, of the POAG derived PBL was 13.8 +/- 1.3 U as compared to 32.8 +/- 2.0 U for control cells. This reduction (> 50%) was statistically significant (P < 0.001). Quantitative immunoblot analysis of PBL indicated that the POAG and control cells, despite their difference in 3 alpha-HSD activity, had nearly identical amounts of 3 alpha-HSD protein. The molecular weight of PBL 3 alpha-HSD from both groups of patients was 38,000, the same as previously reported for human liver. The results of this study show an association of decreased PBL 3 alpha-HSD activity and POAG which was not related to antiglaucoma therapy. The reduced levels of 3 alpha-HSD activity in the readily obtainable PBL may serve as a marker for POAG or those at risk for developing the disease.

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