Rat lenses in organ culture which are exposed to bovine rod outer segments (ROS) or to the major fatty acid of ROS, docosahexaenoic acid, are impaired in their ability to accumulate radiolabeled compounds which lenses normally accumulate by active processes. The extent of lens damage correlates well with the extent of lipid peroxidation in the culture medium as assessed by the thiobarbituric acid assay. Addition of vitamin E to the medium inhibits the effect on the lens while addition of Fe-ADP complexes potentiates the effect. Thus, the lens damage appears to be attributable to toxic species generated by peroxidation of the polyunsaturated lipid added to the culture medium. Toxic aldehyde products appear to be major mediators of the lens damage, since semi-carbazide, which avidly reacts with aldehydes, can protect lenses in this system. These findings may have relevance to the cataracts clinically associated with retinal degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa. The highly membranous photoreceptor cells are extremely rich in polyunsaturated lipid. Degeneration of these cells, which is the primary pathology in such diseases, would likely lead to peroxidation with generation of toxic products within the eye. Such products could potentially produce secondary damage to other ocular structures including the lens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology