In vivo progressive effects of UV irradiation on the lens epithelium were studied using various histomorphological and biochemical parameters. Fifteen day old rat pups were exposed to 600 mW/m2 of radiation, including UV-A and UV-B, 12 h daily for 90, 120, 150 and 180 days. Biochemical parameters such as protein-bound and non–protein-bound sulfhydryl groups in both soluble and insoluble fractions and enzymes, which play an important role in combating the oxidative stress, were studied. Decreased cell density of lens epithelial cells (LEC) was observed in all three zones along with the decrease in the levels of soluble sulfhydryls (S-SH), glutathione reductase (GR), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and catalase (CAT). On the other hand, an increase in insoluble sulfhydryls was observed. Because of the decrease in S-SH and GR activities, the LEC became vulnerable to oxidative stress. Decreased activities of SOD, GPx and CAT suggest elevated oxidative stress. This effect of UV radiation may lead to cell death that may be responsible for the observed decrease in the cell density in all three zones of the lens epithelium.
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Vol. 78 • No. 3