Evidence for apoptosis in the selenite rat model of cataract

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Aug 28;275(2):300-6. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2000.3298.


The purposes of this experiment were (1) to determine if apoptosis was accelerated during formation of selenite cataract, and (2) to determine the role of calpains and caspases in lens apoptosis. Evidence for apoptosis in selenite-injected rats included: approximately 7-8% of epithelial cells in germinative zone were positive, disappearance of the nuclear membrane, condensation of the chromatin, and breakdown of PARP. Activation of calpains was indicated by characteristic limited proteolysis of crystallins, breakdown of alpha-spectrin to 150/145 kDa fragments, hydrolysis of vimentin, and autolytic breakdown of m-calpain. Selenite cataract did not have an appreciable effect on the mRNA levels for caspase-3, calpains, and calpastatin. This indicated the increased enzyme activity of m-calpain and caspase-3 in selenite cataract occurred at the enzyme level rather than by upregulation of mRNAs. Increased calpain and caspase activity may be linked to the selenite-induced apoptosis. Such data are important because they indicate that apoptosis may be a fairly early event in selenite cataract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Base Sequence
  • Calpain / metabolism
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cataract / chemically induced
  • Cataract / enzymology
  • Cataract / metabolism
  • Cataract / pathology*
  • DNA Primers
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Lens, Crystalline / enzymology
  • Lens, Crystalline / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sodium Selenite / pharmacology*


  • DNA Primers
  • Calpain
  • Caspases
  • Sodium Selenite