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Lipid domains in intact fiber-cell plasma membranes isolated from cortical and nuclear regions of human eye lenses of donors from different age groups. Exp Eye Res 2015 Mar;132:78-90



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID





The results reported here clearly document changes in the properties and the organization of fiber-cell membrane lipids that occur with age, based on electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) analysis of lens membranes of clear lenses from donors of age groups from 0 to 20, 21 to 40, and 61 to 80 years. The physical properties, including profiles of the alkyl chain order, fluidity, hydrophobicity, and oxygen transport parameter, were investigated using EPR spin-labeling methods, which also provide an opportunity to discriminate coexisting lipid domains and to evaluate the relative amounts of lipids in these domains. Fiber-cell membranes were found to contain three distinct lipid environments: bulk lipid domain, which appears minimally affected by membrane proteins, and two domains that appear due to the presence of membrane proteins, namely boundary and trapped lipid domains. In nuclear membranes the amount of boundary and trapped phospholipids as well as the amount of cholesterol in trapped lipid domains increased with the donors' age and was greater than that in cortical membranes. The difference between the amounts of lipids in domains uniquely formed due to the presence of membrane proteins in nuclear and cortical membranes increased with the donors' age. It was also shown that cholesterol was to a large degree excluded from trapped lipid domains in cortical membranes. It is evident that the rigidity of nuclear membranes was greater than that of cortical membranes for all age groups. The amount of lipids in domains of low oxygen permeability, mainly in trapped lipid domains, were greater in nuclear than cortical membranes and increased with the age of donors. These results indicate that the nuclear fiber cell plasma membranes were less permeable to oxygen than cortical membranes and become less permeable to oxygen with age. In clear lenses, age-related changes in the lens lipid and protein composition and organization appear to occur in ways that increase fiber cell plasma membrane resistance to oxygen permeation.

Author List

Raguz M, Mainali L, O'Brien WJ, Subczynski WK


Witold K. Subczynski PhD Professor in the Biophysics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Age Factors
Aged, 80 and over
Cell Membrane Permeability
Child, Preschool
Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
Lens Cortex, Crystalline
Lens Nucleus, Crystalline
Membrane Fluidity
Membrane Lipids
Middle Aged
Spin Labels
Young Adult