Hallmarks of lens aging and cataractogenesis


Wishart TFL, Flokis M, Shu DY, Das SJ, Lovicu FJ. Hallmarks of lens aging and cataractogenesis. Exp Eye Res 2021;210:108709.

Date Published:

2021 09


Lens homeostasis and transparency are dependent on the function and intercellular communication of its epithelia. While the lens epithelium is uniquely equipped with functional repair systems to withstand reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated oxidative insult, ROS are not necessarily detrimental to lens cells. Lens aging, and the onset of pathogenesis leading to cataract share an underlying theme; a progressive breakdown of oxidative stress repair systems driving a pro-oxidant shift in the intracellular environment, with cumulative ROS-induced damage to lens cell biomolecules leading to cellular dysfunction and pathology. Here we provide an overview of our current understanding of the sources and essential functions of lens ROS, antioxidative defenses, and changes in the major regulatory systems that serve to maintain the finely tuned balance of oxidative signaling vs. oxidative stress in lens cells. Age-related breakdown of these redox homeostasis systems in the lens leads to the onset of cataractogenesis. We propose eight candidate hallmarks that represent common denominators of aging and cataractogenesis in the mammalian lens: oxidative stress, altered cell signaling, loss of proteostasis, mitochondrial dysfunction, dysregulated ion homeostasis, cell senescence, genomic instability and intrinsic apoptotic cell death.

Last updated on 09/30/2021