Superoxide dismutase of the eye: relative functions of superoxide dismutase and catalase in protecting the ocular lens from oxidative damage

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1978 Aug 3;542(1):28-38. doi: 10.1016/0304-4165(78)90229-5.


1. Activities of superoxide dismutase (superoxide: superoxide oxidoreductase, EC have been estimated in eye tissues. In rabbit eye, superoxide dismutase is present in corneal epithelium, corneal endothelium, lens, iris, ciliary body and retina. In lens the activity is in capsule epithelium. 2. Copper chelator diethyldithiocarbamate inhibited lens superoxide dismutase in vitro and in vivo in rabbit. 3. H2O2 caused inhibition of superoxide dismutase activity of lens extract, and this inhibition was potentiated by the catalase inhibitor 3-amino-1H-1,2,4-triazole (3-aminotriazole) or NaN3. 3-Aminotriazole or NaN3 had no effect on lens superoxide dismutase. Thus endogenous catalase of lens affords protection to the lens superoxide dismutase from inactivation by H2O2. 4. In rabbit having early cataract (vacuolar stage) induced by feeding-3-aminotriazole, there was a decrease in superoxide dismutase of lens, a fall in ascorbic acid of ocular humors and lens, and a 2--3-Fold increase in H2O2 of aqueous humor and vitreous humor. We conclude that catalase of eye affords protection to the lens from H2O2 and it also protects superoxide dismutase of lens from inactivation by H2O2. Superoxide dismutase, in turn, protects the lens from the superoxide radical, O2.-. It is likely that inhibition of these enzymes may lead to production of the highly reactive oxidant, the hydroxyl radical, under pathological conditions when H2O2 concentration in vivo exceeds physiological limits as in cataract induced by 3-aminotriazole. A scheme of reaction mechanism has been proposed to explain the relative functions of ocular catalase and superoxide dismutase. Such a mechanism may be involved in cataractogenic process in the human.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amitrole / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism
  • Catalase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Catalase / physiology*
  • Cataract / etiology
  • Ditiocarb / pharmacology
  • Eye / enzymology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lens, Crystalline / enzymology*
  • Lens, Crystalline / physiology
  • Male
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena
  • Rabbits
  • Superoxide Dismutase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Superoxide Dismutase / physiology*
  • Superoxides / toxicity


  • Superoxides
  • Ditiocarb
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Catalase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Amitrole