Intraocular distribution of melanin in human, monkey, rabbit, minipig and dog eyes

Exp Eye Res. 2012 May;98(1):23-7. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


The purpose of this study was to quantify the melanin pigment content in sclera, choroid-RPE, and retina, three tissues encountered during transscleral drug delivery to the vitreous, in human, rabbit, monkey, minipig, and dog models. Strain differences were assessed in NZW × NZR F1 and Dutch belted rabbits and Yucatan and Gottingen minipigs. The choroid-RPE and retina tissues were divided into central (posterior pole area) and peripheral (away from posterior pole) regions while the sclera was analyzed without such division. Melanin content in the tissues was analyzed using a colorimetric assay. In all species the rank order for pigment content was: choroid-RPE >retina ≥ sclera, except in humans, where scleral melanin levels were higher than retina and central choroid. The melanin content in a given tissue differed between species. Further, while the peripheral tissue pigment levels tended to be generally higher compared to the central regions, these differences were significant in human in the case of choroid-RPE and in human, monkey, and dogs in the case of retina. Strain difference was observed only in the central choroid-RPE region of rabbits (NZW × NZR F1 >Dutch Belted). Species, strain, and regional differences exist in the melanin pigment content in the tissues of the posterior segment of the eye, with Gottingen minipig being closest to humans among the animals assessed. These differences in melanin content might contribute to differences in drug binding, delivery, and toxicity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choroid / chemistry*
  • Colorimetry
  • Dogs
  • Eye Proteins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Melanins / analysis*
  • Rabbits
  • Retina / chemistry*
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / chemistry*
  • Sclera / chemistry*
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature


  • Eye Proteins
  • Melanins