Previous studies have shown that treatment of guinea pigs with hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) produces certain changes in the lens nuclei of the animals which are typical of those occurring during aging. These include an increase in nuclear light scattering (NLS), elevation in levels of oxidized thiols, loss of water-soluble protein and damage to nuclear membranes. The present study investigated the effect of HBO-treatment in vivo on lens cytoskeletal proteins and MIP26 which are also known to undergo alteration with age. Young (2-month-old) and old (18-month-old) guinea pigs were treated 15 and 30 times with HBO (3 times per week with 2.5 atmospheres of 100% oxygen for 2.5 hr periods). SDS-PAGE and Western blotting showed that HBO-treatment of the older animals accelerated the age-related loss of five nuclear cytoskeletal proteins including actin, vimentin, ankyrin, alpha-actinin and tubulin, compared to levels present in age-matched controls (effects on spectrin and the beaded filaments were not investigated in this study). Treatment of the young animals with HBO produced losses which were primarily associated with concentrations of the nuclear alpha- and beta-tubulins; these cytoskeletal proteins were observed to be most sensitive to the induced oxidative stress, and were affected earliest in the study. Disulfide-crosslinking, rather than proteolysis, appeared to be the main cause of the HBO-induced cytoskeletal protein loss (elevated levels of calcium, which might have induced proteolysis, were not found in the experimental nuclei). Loss of MIP26 was observed only in the older guinea pigs treated 30 times with HBO; both disulfide-crosslinking and degradation to MIP22 were associated with the disappearance. Thus, nuclear MIP26 was susceptible to oxidative stress, but less so than the cytoskeletal proteins, particularly the tubulins. No cortical effects on either MIP26 or the cytoskeletal proteins were observed under any of the treatment protocols. No direct link was observed between an HBO-induced increase in NLS (observed in both the young and old animals using slit-lamp biomicroscopy) and losses of either MIP26 or the cytoskeletal proteins. The appearance of HBO-induced nuclear opacity without any change in the levels of nuclear sodium, potassium or calcium is similar to that observed previously for human senile pure nuclear cataracts. The results provide additional evidence that molecular oxygen can enter the nucleus of the lens and promote age-related events. The observed effects on MIP26 and the cytoskeletal proteins are indicative of an increased level of lens nuclear oxidative stress in the HBO model, possibly a precursor to nuclear cataract.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.