Cataract, a leading cause of blindness, is characterized by lenticular opacities resulting from denaturation of lens proteins due to activation of calcium-dependent enzyme, calpain. Magnesium (Mg(2+)) plays an important role not only in maintaining a low lenticular calcium (Ca(2+)) and sodium concentration but also in preserving the lens redox status. Taurine has also been shown to reduce lenticular oxidative stress. Present study evaluated the anticataract effects of magnesium taurate in vivo and in vitro. Among the five groups of 9 Sprague Dawley rats each, two groups received 30% galactose diet with topical (GDMT) or oral treatment (GDMO) with magnesium taurate. Two groups received 30% galactose diet with topical (GDT) or oral vehicle (GDO). Remaining 1 group received normal diet (ND). Weekly slit lamp examination was done during 21 days experimental period and then all rats were sacrificed; Ca/Mg ratio and antioxidant parameters including reduced glutathione (GSH), catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities were measured in the isolated lenses using ELISA. In the in vitro study, 2 groups of 10 normal rat lenses were incubated in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM) with galactose while 1 similar group was incubated in DMEM without galactose. In one of the groups, galactose containing medium was supplemented with magnesium taurate. After 48 h of incubation, lenses were photographed and Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio and antioxidant parameters were measured as for in vivo study. The in vivo study, at the end of experimental period, demonstrated delay in the development of cataract with a mean opacity index of 0.53 ± 0.04 and 0.51 ± 0.03 in GDMO (p < 0.05 versus GDO) and GDMT (p < 0.01 versus GDT) respectively. Histopathological grading showed a lower mean value in treated groups, however, the differences from corresponding controls were not significant. Lenticular Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio with a mean value of 1.20 ± 0.26 and 1.05 ± 0.26 in GDMO and GDMT was significantly lower than corresponding controls (p < 0.05) and in GDMT no significant difference was observed from ND. Lenticular GSH and catalase activities were significantly lower and SOD activity was significantly higher in all galactose fed groups. However, in GDMT, GSH and catalase were significantly higher than corresponding control with mean values of 0.96 ± 0.30 μmol/gm lens weight and 56.98 ± 9.86 μmol/g lens protein respectively (p < 0.05 for GSH and p < 0.01 for catalase). SOD activity with mean values of 13.05 ± 6.35 and 13.27 ± 7.61 units/mg lens protein in GDMO and GDMT respectively was significantly lower compared to corresponding controls (p < 0.05) signifying lesser upregulation of SOD due to lesser oxidative stress in treated groups. In the in vitro study, lenses incubated in magnesium taurate containing medium showed less opacity and a lower mean Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio of 1.64 ± 0.03, which was not significantly different from lenses incubated in DMEM without galactose. Lens GSH and catalase activities were restored to normal in lenses incubated in magnesium taurate containing medium. Both in vivo and in vitro studies demonstrated that treatment with magnesium taurate delays the onset and progression of cataract in galactose fed rats by restoring the lens Ca(2+)/Mg(2+) ratio and lens redox status.
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