Eye’s Lens Cells Stop Problem Neighbors Before They Turn Toxic

New insights may help with new treatments for cataracts and other illnesses.
By:  Katharine Gammon, Contributor
(Inside Science) – Nearly every cell system in the body has a garbage man – cells whose job it is to take out the trash and gobble up dead cells before they start to cause problems.
The eye lens – an environment that has no blood supply and whose cells exist for a person’s whole life – was thought to be a different story. But now, researchers have figured out how the eye lens sheds unwanted cells.
“You’re looking through cells you made as an embryo right now,” explained Marc Kantorow, a biologist at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, adding that cells in the eye’s core last for a lifetime, though the lens continues to grow for life. Wildlife biologists often weigh the eye lens to determine the age of an animal.
The lens is special in other ways, too: it lacks protective pigment to shield it from ultraviolet light, and also lacks a blood supply to bring blood cells in or out. When cells bombarded by ultraviolet light eventually become necrotic (better known as dead), the lens needs a way to get rid of the material.
The researchers theorized that eye lens cells could act like blood cells and phagocytize – eat up the dead material, digest it and make it non-toxic, Kantorow said.
Using embryonic chicken lenses, the researchers set out to find the molecular mechanism that made the system work. They created cells that produced red or green glowing proteins, and killed off some of the green cells. Watching and tracking which cells ate the green cells, they also used antibodies to figure out which molecules were needed for the cells to eat each other.……
More: https://www.insidescience.org/content/eyes-lens-cells-stop-problem-neighbors-they-turn-toxic/3516
Source: Inside Science
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