Author(s): Tang D, Borchman D, Yappert MC, Vrensen GF, Rasi V
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Abstract PURPOSE: Calcium is elevated in most cataractous human lenses and may contribute to cataractogenesis. In this study, age-related changes were examined in the total calcium content of clear human lenses and the binding of calcium to lens lipids and proteins. METHODS: Total lens calcium was determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy. Calcium binding was measured by light scattering and measurement of calcium by atomic absorption spectroscopy in bound and unbound fractions. RESULTS: The calcium content of clear human lenses decreased between 18 and 55 years of age and increased between 55 and 75 years, as well as in the presence of cataract. Total calcium levels in clear lenses from subjects with insulin-dependent diabetes did not differ from that in lenses of age-matched control subjects. In vitro binding studies have shown that lens lipids can bind nearly all the calcium present in the human lens. Age and cataract diminished the capacity of lens lipids to bind calcium. Calcium-induced light-scattering, measured in vitro for lens proteins, correlated with increasing age and cataract. CONCLUSIONS: The data support the hypothesis that increased intracellular calcium concentrations and a diminished capacity of lens lipids to bind to calcium initiate a cascade of events that culminates in increased light-scattering from lipids and especially proteins. Calcium binding to lipid membranes cannot directly contribute to light-scattering in cataractous lenses. It has been suggested that most of the diffusible calcium in the lens is in the intercellular spaces and that lens lipids in the outer leaflet of the bilayer bind to that calcium. If so, this could account for the 150-fold difference between free and bound calcium levels in the lens.
This article was published in Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology