Distribution of diffusible ions in the aging rat lens. An X-ray microanalytical investigation.

P. Versura, M. C. Maltarello, R. Laschi, G. M. Roomans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The elemental content of the anterior and posterior cortex and of the nucleus of the rat eye lens, and the changes occurring as a function of age, were investigated by energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis of cryostat sections. In contrast to most other cells investigated by this technique, the main element detectable in the lens was sulfur, not phosphorus. This is likely to be due to the lack of cell organelles and of nucleic acids in the lens cells. Up to 19 months of age, the concentrations of Na, Cl and K are much lower in the nucleus than in the cortex, whereas the concentration of S is highest in the cortex. At 25 months the differences in elemental content between nucleus and cortex, while still present, are less pronounced. The age-related changes in ion content are rather complex and appear to be different for different parts of the lens. In general, the ion content of the lens increases with age. In the nucleus, the concentration of K increases gradually with age, whereas the Na concentration only appears to increase after 19 months. The Na/K ratio in the lens nucleus is lower in the oldest groups. The Ca concentration increases with age in the nucleus and the posterior cortex, but not in the anterior cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-396
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Submicroscopic Cytology and Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Histology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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