ABSTRACT: Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is the first enzyme in the kynurenine pathway. The kynurenines formed in this pathway chemically modify proteins and cause apoptosis in cells. Evidence suggests that kynurenines and their protein modifications are involved in cataract formation, but this has yet to be directly demonstrated. We generated transgenic (Tg) mouse lines that overexpress human IDO in the lens. Homozygous Tg (homTg) lenses had higher IDO immunoreactivity, approximately 4.5 times greater IDO mRNA, and approximately 8 times higher IDO activity compared to lenses from hemizygous Tg (hemTg) animals. The kynurenine content was threefold higher in homTg than in hemTg but was not detected in wild-type (Wt) lenses. Kynurenine modifications were approximately 2.6 times greater in homTg than in hemTg or Wt. HomTg lenses had vacuoles in the epithelium and cortical fiber cells. Kynurenine modifications coincided with apoptosis in the secondary fiber cells of homTg lenses. Caspase-3 and caspase-9 activities were markedly higher in homTg than in hemTg and Wt. The glutathione content was approximately 36% lower in homTg compared to hemTg and Wt lenses. HomTg animals also developed bilateral cataracts within 3 months of birth. Together these data demonstrate that IDO-mediated production of kynurenines results in defects in fiber cell differentiation and their apoptosis and suggest that IDO activity is kept low in the lens to prevent deleterious effects by kynurenines.
Laboratory Investigation 04/2009; 89(5):498-512. · 3.64 Impact Factor