Objective—To determine responses of canine and feline lenses to incubation in a medium with a high glucose concentration.
Sample Population—Lenses from 35 dogs and 26 cats.
Procedure—Glucose concentrations were measured in paired lenses from 25 dogs and 17 cats after incubation for 14 days in high-glucose (30 mmol of glucose/ L) or control (6 mmol of glucose/L) medium. Aldose reductase activity was measured spectrophotometrically in the incubated lenses and in freshly frozen lenses from 10 dogs and 9 cats. Two lenses of each group were studied histologically.
Results—Canine and feline lenses in high-glucose medium developed glucose-specific opacities of variable localization and extent. Canine lenses developed equatorial vacuoles, but severity of the lesions was not associated with the age of the dog. Lenses from young cats (≤ 4 years old) developed extensive posterior cortical opacities, whereas those from older cats (> 4 years old) did not. Glucose concentrations were similar in all lenses incubated in high-glucose medium; however aldose reductase activity was significantly lower in lenses from older cats, compared with lenses from young cats and from dogs.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—High aldose reductase activity and glucose-related opacities suggest a central role for this enzyme in the pathogenesis of diabetic cataracts in dogs and cats. Because onset of diabetes mellitus usually occurs in cats > 7 years of age, low activity of aldose reductase in lenses of older cats may explain why diabetic cataracts are rare in this species despite hyperglycemia. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:1591–1597)