Dietary myo-inositol effect on sugar cataractogenesis

Pharmacology. 1989;39(1):59-68. doi: 10.1159/000138572.


The lens myo-inositol (MI) content is known to be depleted during initial cataractogenesis in both streptozocin (STZ)-induced diabetic and 50% galactose-maintained rats. The objective of this study is to establish whether dietary MI supplementation protects lens transparency, MI content and individual fiber cell ultrastructure is both model systems of sugar cataract. In the diabetic study, after induction with STZ, rats were immediately placed on normal chow supplemented with 2% MI for 14 weeks while additional age-matched control and diabetic rats remained untreated. Within 14 weeks, untreated diabetic rat lenses were totally opaque with undetectable MI content; MI was undetectable by 1 month. These opaque lenses were devoid of fiber cells and exhibited only acellular, amorphous cortical regions between 0 and 500 microns from the capsule. In contrast, 14-week, MI-treated diabetic rat lenses exhibited only cortical vacuolation indicative of initial cataractogenesis; MI content was 0.41 +/- 0.26 mumol/g wet weight of lens. Scanning electron micrographs indicated a granulated, acellular region subadjacent to the capsule and confirmed the presence of cortical fiber cells, approximately 100 microns from the capsule. In 50% galactose-maintained rats, daily administration of MI for 1 month was unable to prevent total opacification or reverse initial cataractogenesis indicating that in rapidly progressing galactose cataracts, MI was unable to protect lens transparency, MI content and cortical fiber ultrastructure. The combined results suggest that MI may exert a protective effect on the slowly developing diabetic cataract. Of the 2 models, the time course and polyol content in STZ diabetic lenses more closely correlate to the human diabetic lens which has a low activity of aldose reductase; therefore, it is possible that MI may exert a protective effect in human diabetic cataract.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbohydrates / adverse effects
  • Cataract / pathology
  • Cataract / prevention & control*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / complications
  • Diet
  • Galactose / pharmacology
  • Inositol / administration & dosage
  • Inositol / therapeutic use*
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism
  • Lens, Crystalline / pathology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Carbohydrates
  • Inositol
  • Galactose