Abstract

Cataract is the leading cause of visual impairment globally. Racemization of lens proteins may contribute to cataract formation in aging individuals. As a special type of age-related cataract (ARC), diabetic cataract (DC) is characterized by the early onset of cortical opacification and finally developed into a mixed type of cortical and nuclear opacification. We compared racemization of Asp 58 residue, a hotspot position in αA-crystallin, from the cortex and nucleus of diabetic and age-matched senile cataractous lenses, by identifying L-Asp/L-isoAsp/D-Asp/D-isoAsp by mass spectrometry. Compared to nondiabetic cataractous lenses, DC lenses showed a significantly increased cortex/nucleus ratio of D-Asp 58, which originated primarily from an increased percentage of D-Asp 58 in the lens cortex of DC. Moreover, patients diagnosed with diabetes for over 10 years showed a lower cortex/nucleus ratio of D-isoAsp 58 in the lens compared with those who had a shorter duration of diabetes, which originated mainly from an increased percentage of D-isoAsp 58 in the lens nucleus of DC with increasing time of hyperglycemia. Further analysis confirmed decreased protein solubility in diabetic cataractous lenses. The different racemization pattern in DC may be distinguished from ARC and influence its phenotype over the protracted duration of diabetes.