Nuclear cataract and light scattering in cultured lenses from guinea pig and rabbit

Chiho Fukiage, Mitsuyoshi Azuma, Yoshikuni Nakamura, Yoshiyuki Tamada, Thomas R. Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose. To compare calcium ionophore-induced cataract formation and in vitro light scattering in cultured lenses from guinea pig and rabbit. Methods. Lenses from guinea pig and rabbit were cultured for 5 or 6 days with calcium ionophore A23187. To assess the involvement of calpain in cataract formation; SDS-PAGE, immunoblotting and calcium determinations were performed. For in vitro light scattering, lens soluble proteins from rabbit were hydrolyzed for 24 h by either endogenous lens calpain, or by addition of purified m-calpain and then further incubated for up to 10 days. Light scattering was measured daily at 405 nm. Results. Lenses from younger guinea pigs cultured in A23187 first developed outer cortical opacities followed by nuclear cataract. Total calcium was markedly increased by A23187 in lenses of all ages. Proteolysis of crystallins and α-spectrin were observed in nuclear cataract in younger guinea pigs. This was attenuated with age, in association with the attenuation of cataract formation with age. Calpain 80 kDa subunit in the lenses cultured with A23187 was also decreased. Co-culture with SJA6017 or E64d (reversible and irreversible inhibitors of calpain, respectively) reduced A23187-induced nuclear opacities, proteolysis of crystallins and α-spectrin, and loss of calpain without affecting increased total calcium. In contrast, rabbit lenses cultured in A23187 did not develop nuclear cataract, although biochemical changes in cultured rabbit lenses were similar to those in cultured guinea pig lenses. Furthermore, no appreciable in vitro, light scattering occurred in soluble proteins from rabbit lenses after activation of endogenous m-calpain, or after addition of exogenous purified m-calpain, although crystallins were partially hydrolyzed by calpain. Conclusions. Both rabbit and guinea pig lenses undergo calpain-induced proteolysis upon elevation of lenticular calcium. However, factors in intact guinea pig lenses may promote light scattering and insolubilization after proteolysis by calpain, but these factors were not functional in rabbit lenses. Discovery of the factors promoting light scatter and insolubilization after proteolysis will help to explain the role of certain crystallin polypeptides in cataract formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-635
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Eye Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998


  • Crystallins
  • Guinea pig
  • Lens
  • Light scattering
  • M-calpain protease
  • Nuclear cataract
  • Rabbit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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