Author(s): Mathias RT, Rae JL, Baldo GJ
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Abstract The lens is an avascular organ suspended between the aqueous and vitreous humors of the eye. The cellular structure is symmetric about an axis passing through its anterior and posterior poles but asymmetric about a plane passing through its equator. Because of its asymmetric structure, the lens has historically been assumed to perform transport between the aqueous and vitreous humors. Indeed, when anterior and posterior surfaces were isolated in an Ussing chamber, a translens current was measured. However, in the eye, the two surfaces are not isolated. The vibrating probe technique showed the current densities at the surface of a free-standing lens were surprisingly large, about an order of magnitude greater than measured in an Ussing chamber, and were not directed across the lens. Rather, they were inward in the region of either anterior or posterior pole and outward at the equator. This circulating current is the most dramatic physiological property of a normal lens. We believe it is essential to maintain clarity; hence, this review focuses on factors likely to drive and direct it. We review properties and spatial distribution of lens Na+/K+ pumps, ion channels, and gap junctions. Based on these data, we propose a model in which the difference in electromotive potential of surface versus interior cell membranes drives the current, whereas the distribution of gap junctions directs the current in the observed pattern. Although this model is clearly too simple, it appears to quantitatively predict observed currents. However, the model also predicts fluid will move in the same pattern as ionic current. We therefore speculate that the physiological role of the current is to create an internal circulatory system for the avascular lens.
This article was published in Physiol Rev
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access