Age-related alterations in vitamin A metabolism in the rat retina.
Vitamin A plays a central role in visual transduction and in maintaining the structural integrity of the retina. It is possible that age-related alterations in vitamin A metabolism in the eye could contribute to the impairment of visual function that occurs during senescence. Therefore, investigations were conducted to determine whether the metabolism of this vitamin in the rat retina was altered during aging. Pigmented rats aged 12-, 22-, and 32 months were dark-adapted, and one eye from each animal was enucleated under dim red light. The neural retinas were separated from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-choroid-scleral complexes, and the amounts and forms of vitamin A in both tissues were determined. The animals were then fully light-adapted, and the same measurements were performed on the tissues from the remaining eye of each rat. A number of age-related alterations in the vitamin A composition and content of the retina and RPE were observed. The most pronounced of these changes were significant increases in the ratios of retinyl palmitate to retinyl stearate with advancing age in both the neural retina and RPE. The total vitamin A ester contents of the RPEs increased during senescence in the dark-adapted state, but not in the light-adapted state. Retinyl ester levels in the neural retinas, on the other hand, did not differ significantly between 12- and 32-month-old animals in either the light-adapted or dark-adapted states. The amounts of all-trans retinol in the neural retinas decreased during aging, mainly in the dark-adapted state, whereas aging had no influence on RPE all-trans retinol content. The age-related alterations in metabolism of vitamin A that these observations reflect may be related to certain changes in visual function that occur during senescence.
Katz, ML; Drea, CM; Robison, WG
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