Mechanism of lysine oxidation in human lens crystallins during aging and in diabetes

Xingjun Fan, Jianye Zhang, Matilde Theves, Christopher Strauch, Ina Nemet, Xiaoqin Liu, Juna Qian, Frank J. Giblin, Vincent M. Monnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Oxidative mechanisms during nuclear sclerosis of the lens are poorly understood, in particular metal-catalyzed oxidation. The lysyl oxidation product adipic semialdehyde (allysine, ALL) and its oxidized end-product 2-aminoadipic acid (2-AAA) were determined as a function of age and presence of diabetes. Surprisingly, whereas both ALL and 2-AAA increased with age and strongly correlated with cataract grade and protein absorbance at 350 nm, only ALL formation but not 2-AAA was increased by diabetes. To clarify the mechanism of oxidation, rabbit lenses were treated with hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) for 48 h, and proteins were analyzed by gas and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry for ALL, 2-AAA, and multiple glycation products. Upon exposure to HBO, rabbit lenses were swollen, and nuclei were yellow. Protein-bound ALL increased 8-fold in the nuclear protein fractions versus controls. A dramatic increase in methyl-glyoxal hydroimidazolone and carboxyethyl-lysine but no increase of 2-AAA occurred, suggesting more drastic conditions are needed to oxidize ALL into 2-AAA. Indeed the latter formed only upon depletion of glutathione and was catalyzed by H2O2. Neither carboxymethyl-lysine nor glyoxal hydroimidazolone, two markers of glyco-/lipoxidation, nor markers of lenticular glycemia (fructose-lysine, glucospane) were elevated by HBO, excluding significant lipid peroxidation and glucose involvement. The findings strongly implicate dicarbonyl/metal catalyzed oxidation of lysine to allysine, whereby low GSH combined with ascorbate-derived H2O2 likely contributes toward 2-AAA formation, since virtually no 2-AAA formed in the presence of methylglyoxal instead of ascorbate. An important translational conclusion is that chelating agents might help delay nuclear sclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34618-34627
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 11 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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