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K R Hightower, J P McCready; Effect of selenite on epithelium of cultured rabbit lens.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1991;32(2):406-409.
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Selenite (Se) cataract in rabbit lenses was investigated in vitro to define target sites of Se that might be involved in calcium elevation and lens opacification. Experiments in which the anterior or the posterior surface of the lens was exposed to Se showed that anterior exposure led to ionic imbalances and opacification in the whole lens. Posterior exposure to Se (1 mM, 2 hr) had no effect. Se treatment (0.1 mM) of epithelial homogenates led to a 56% loss of thiol (SH) groups, and treatment of lenses cultured in Se led to a 22% loss. Experiments to assess the effects of Se on SH groups of Ca-ATPase showed that the transport enzyme was not affected by the poison. To determine whether this negative finding was due to the lack of accessibility of Se for SH sites in an ordered membrane, Ca-ATPase was also assayed in homogenate preparations treated with Se; still no inhibition of Ca-ATPase activity was observed. Therefore, an alternative explanation of calcium elevation was explored. The passive movement of labeled chloride (36Cl) was found to be twice as fast in Se-treated lenses as it was in control lenses. Measurement of the lens voltage indicated an 18-mV depolarization in Se-treated lenses, suggesting that Se increased membrane permeability. All cataractogenic changes that occurred after Se treatment were irreversible-despite intervention with external application of reduced glutathione or cysteine. This finding suggests that irreversible loss of SH groups in lens membranes is important in maintaining ion homeostasis.
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