Alterations in human vitreous humour following cataract extraction

R. E. Neal, F. A. Bettelheim, C. Lin, K. C. Winn, D. L. Garland, J. S. Zigler

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Cataract extraction is associated with the risk of posterior vitreous detachment, macular edema and retinal detachment possibly as a result of a disturbance to the vitreous body during surgery. While it is common for lens cortical fiber debris to leak into the vitreous humour during cataract extraction, the extent to which the vitreous humour is altered post-surgery is unknown. The current study examines the integrity of the vitreous humour of pseudophakic and phakic human donor eyes by comparing the proteome, the viscosity and the size distribution of macromolecules in different regions of the vitreous humour from human pseudophakic and phakic donor eyes. Major differences between the proteomes of anterior and posterior vitreous humour were observed in phakic and pseudophakic donor eyes. Seventeen spots identified as complete, modified or cleaved forms of αA-, αB-, βA 4-, βB2, and γS-crystallins were present in the anterior vitreous humour of all pseudophakic eyes studied. Crystallins were not detected in the posterior vitreous humour of the pseudophakic eye or the vitreous humour of the phakic eye. Significant alterations in abundance and/or modification of transthyretin, alpha antitrypsin, and retinoic acid binding protein were observed in all locations of pseudophakic vitreous humour as compared to phakic samples. In addition, a significant decrease in the number and intensity of protein spots was observed for the posterior vitreous humour of pseudophakic eyes when compared to posterior vitreous humour of phakic eyes. Proteins which were affected include antioxidant proteins and enzymes such as carbonic anhydrase and trisephosphate isomerase. A reversal of the viscosity gradient, anterior to posterior, in the vitreous humour of pseudophakic eyes was observed concomitant with alterations in the distribution of 50 nm particles. These particles are likely primarily composed of hyaluronan. While varying degrees of vitreous degradation may have existed prior to surgery and may have contributed to the cataract formation, in no case did the phakic donor eyes exhibit the same alterations in the vitreous humour proteome, viscosity or particle sizes as did the pseudophakic donor eyes. The examination of phakic/pseudophakic donor eye pairs confirmed that the vitreous humour proteome and structural integrity were very similar in the matched phakic donor eye to eyes from donors with no history of cataract. Even though the number of samples for this study was limited, the observed changes support the hypothesis that alterations in the vitreous humour proteome occur in psuedophakic eyes with concurrent alterations in the structure of the vitreous humor. These modifications of the microenvironment of the retina may contribute to the development of retinal complications following cataract surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-347
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental eye research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Cataract
  • Crystallin
  • Dynamic light scattering
  • Phacoemulsification
  • Proteome
  • Surgery
  • Viscosity
  • Vitreous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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