A pilot study to evaluate the levels of aqueous humor trace elements in open-angle glaucoma

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2020 May 22:61:126560. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2020.126560. Online ahead of print.


Background: Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common form of chronic, progressive optic neuropathies characterized by slow degeneration of the retinal ganglion cells and their axons, resulting in visual field loss. Risk factors for this disease are elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), increased age, European and African ethnicity, family history, myopia and decreased corneal thickness. In addition, studies indicated that levels of trace elements are also significantly related to the POAG.

Method: The association between toxic and essential elements and POAG was explored in a population-based case-control study in the Sardinia Island (Italy). The aqueous humor levels of Al, Cd, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn were measured in 25 POAG patients compared to 20 age- and gender-matched healthy controls by sector field inductively coupled mass spectrometry. Risk factors as gender, age and increased IOP were also explored.

Results: The concentrations of Fe, Hg and Zn were significantly higher in POAG patients than in control subjects, showing these elements as possible determinants in POAG development or degeneration. Other findings were the increased Cu and Fe levels in glaucomatous patients with age less than 70 years. Levels of Ni were found elevated in POAG females. Mercury accumulated more in POAG females, in patients over 70 years and in those with higher levels of IOP in the left eye. Moreover, the positive associations CuFe and Mn-Zn may indicate synergistic effects of elements.

Conclusions: Altogether, these findings suggested a multifactorial role in the risk for POAG disease. The present study documented the levels of trace elements in aqueous humor of Sardinian POAG patients for the first time.

Keywords: Aqueous humor; Essential and toxic elements; Eyes; Primary open angle glaucoma; Risk factors.