Evidence of dual mechanisms of glutathione uptake in the rodent lens: A novel role for vitreous humor in lens glutathione homeostasis

Jeremy A. Whitson, David R. Sell, Michael C. Goodman, Vincent M. Monnier, Xingjun Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Lens glutathione synthesis knockout (LEGSKO) mouse lenses lack de novo glutathione (GSH) synthesis but still maintain >1 mM GSH. We sought to determine the source of this residual GSH and the mechanism by which it accumulates in the lens. METHODS. Levels of GSH, glutathione disulfide (GSSG), and GSH-related compounds were measured in vitro and in vivo using isotope standards and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis. RESULTS. Wild-type (WT) lenses could accumulate GSH from γ-glutamylcysteine and glycine or from intact GSH, but LEGSKO lenses could only accumulate GSH from intact GSH, indicating that LEGSKO lens GSH content is not due to synthesis by a salvage pathway. Uptake of GSH in cultured lenses occurred at the same rate for LEGSKO and WT lenses, could not be inhibited, and occurred primarily through cortical fiber cells. In contrast, uptake of GSH from aqueous humor could be competitively inhibited and showed an enhanced K m in LEGSKO lenses. Mouse vitreous had >1 mM GSH, whereas aqueous had <20 μM GSH. Testing physiologically relevant GSH concentrations for uptake in vivo, we found that both LEGSKO and WT lenses could obtain GSH from the vitreous but not from the aqueous. Vitreous rapidly accumulated GSH from the circulation, and depletion of circulating GSH reduced vitreous but not aqueous GSH. CONCLUSIONS. The above data provide, for the first time, evidence for the existence of dual mechanisms of GSH uptake into the lens, one mechanism being a passive, high-flux transport through the vitreous exposed side of the lens versus an active, carrier-mediated uptake mechanism at the anterior of the lens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3914-3925
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aqueous
  • Cataract
  • Glutathione
  • Homeostasis
  • Lens
  • Oxidative stress
  • Transport
  • Vitreous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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