There are no treatments for reversing or halting cataract, a disease of the structural proteins in the eye lens, that has associations with other age-related degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. The incidence of cataract and associated conditions is increasing as the average age of the population rises. Protein folding diseases are difficult to assess in vivo as proteins and their age-related changes are assessed after extraction. Nanotechnology can be used to investigate protein changes in the intact lens as well as for a potential means of drug delivery. Nanoparticles, such as cerium oxide (CeO2) which have antioxidant properties, may even be used as a means of treating cataract directly. Prior to use in treatments, nanoparticle genotoxicity must be tested to assess the extent of any DNA or chromosomal damage. Sister chromatid exchanges were measured and DNA damage investigated using the alkaline COMET assay on cultured human lens epithelial cells, exposed to 5 and 10 µg ml−1 of CeO2 nanoparticles (nanoceria). Nanoceria at these dosages did not cause any DNA damage or significant increases in the number of sister chromatid exchanges. The absence of genotoxic effects on lens cells suggests that nanoceria, in the doses and exposures tested in this study, are not deleterious to the eye lens and have the potential for use in studying structural alterations, in developing non-surgical cataract treatments and in investigating other protein folding diseases.
Pierscionek, B., Li, YB., Yasseen, AA., Colhoun, LM., Schachar, RA., & Chen, W. (2010). Nanoceria have no Genotoxic Effect on Human Lens Epithelial Cells. Nanotechnology, 21(3). https://doi.org/10.1088/0957-4484/21/3/035102