Oxidative damage to lens in culture: reversibility by pyruvate and ethyl pyruvate

Ophthalmologica. 2006;220(1):52-7. doi: 10.1159/000089275.


It is generally believed that prophylactic intake of antioxidants is beneficial in delaying the onset of some aging manifestations such as cataract. However, whether such a supplementation will also be effective if the pathophysiological process has already set in remains a largely open question. We examined this possibility with lens changes leading to cataract formation, since cataract genesis is intimately related to a continued generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the aqueous humor. Since the formation of cataract is a well-defined progressive disease, starting with an early refractive change and leading to gradual enhancement of opacification, we hypothesized that even a belated start with an appropriate anti-oxidant could halt the pathological process and delay cataract maturation and vision impairment. Using lens cultures, we tested this hypothesis with pyruvate, known to be an effective and highly potent ROS scavenger. Adding pyruvate to the culture medium after lenses had sustained a 50% damage was significantly effective in preventing progress. This was apparent by better maintenance of the active rubidium transport activity in these lenses compared to controls without pyruvate treatment. Glutathione levels were also higher in the pyruvate group.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cataract / metabolism
  • Cataract / pathology
  • Cataract / prevention & control*
  • Culture Media
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Lens, Crystalline / drug effects*
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism
  • Lens, Crystalline / pathology
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Pyruvates / pharmacology*
  • Pyruvic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / toxicity
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Culture Media
  • Pyruvates
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • ethyl pyruvate
  • Pyruvic Acid