Anaerobic vs aerobic pathways of carbonyl and oxidant stress in human lens and skin during aging and in diabetes: A comparative analysis

Xingjun Fan, David R. Sell, Jianye Zhang, Ina Nemet, Mathilde Theves, Jie Lu, Christopher Strauch, Marc K. Halushka, Vincent M. Monnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The effects of anaerobic (lens) vs aerobic (skin) environment on carbonyl and oxidant stress are compared using de novo and existing data on advanced glycation and oxidation products in human crystallins and collagen. Almost all modifications increase with age. Methylglyoxal hydroimidazolones, carboxymethyllysine, and carboxyethyllysine are severalfold higher in lens than in skin and markedly increase upon incubation of lens crystallins with 5mM ascorbic acid. In contrast, fructose-lysine, glucosepane crosslinks, glyoxal hydroimidazolones, metal-catalyzed oxidation (allysine), and H2O2-dependent modifications (2-aminoapidic acid and methionine sulfoxide) are markedly elevated in skin, but relatively suppressed in the aging lens. In both tissues ornithine is the dominant modification, implicating arginine residues as the principal target of the Maillard reaction in vivo. Diabetes (here mostly type 2 studied) increases significantly fructose-lysine and glucosepane in both tissues (P<0.001) but has surprisingly little effect on the absolute level of most other advanced glycation end products. However, diabetes strengthens the Spearman correlation coefficients for age-related accumulation of hydrogen peroxide-mediated modifications in the lens. Overall, the data suggest that oxoaldehyde stress involving methylglyoxal from either glucose or ascorbate is predominant in the aging noncataractous lens, whereas aging skin collagen undergoes combined attack by nonoxidative glucose-mediated modifications, as well as those from metal-catalyzed oxidation and H2O2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-856
Number of pages10
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Collagen
  • Crystallins
  • Free radicals
  • Glycation
  • Metals
  • Methylglyoxal
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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