Quantitative metabolomic analysis of changes in the lens and aqueous humor under development of age-related nuclear cataract

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Introduction: Metabolites are essential for the proper functioning of the eye lens, they either enter the lens from the aqueous humor (AH), or are synthesized in the lens epithelium. Antioxidants, osmolytes and UV filters are especially important for the lens protection, and their lack may cause the development of ophthalmic diseases. Objectives: Comparison of the metabolomic compositions of lenses and AH taken from cataract patients with that taken from human cadavers without cataract can shed light onto molecular mechanisms underlying onset of age-related nuclear cataract. Methods: Combined use of 1 H nuclear magnetic resonance and high performance liquid chromatography with optical and high-resolution mass spectrometric detection for the identification and quantification of metabolites in the lens and AH extracts. Results: The concentrations of 86 metabolites were determined for four groups of samples, including lenses and AH from cataract patients and from human cadavers. In cataractous lens the most abundant metabolites are (in descending order): myo-inositol, lactate, acetate, glutamate, glutathione; in AH—lactate, glucose, glutamine, alanine, valine. The concentrations of the majority of metabolites in normal post-mortem samples of both lens and AH are higher than that in samples from the cataract patients. Conclusions: Comparison of metabolite concentrations in lens and corresponding AH reveal that the most important for the lens protection metabolites are synthesized in the lens epithelial cells. The reduced levels of antioxidants, UV filters, and osmolytes were found in the cataractous lenses what cannot be explained by post-mortem changes in normal lens; that indicates that the age-related nuclear cataract development may originate from the dysfunction of the lens epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2019


  • Age-related nuclear cataract
  • Mass spectrometry
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • Quantitative metabolomics
  • ACID

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