Lipids are critical to cellular function and it is generally accepted that lipid turnover is rapid and dysregulation in turnover results in disease (Dawidowicz 1987, Phillips et al. 2009, Liu et al. 2013). Here we present an intriguing counter-example by demonstrating that in the center of the human ocular lens there is no lipid turnover in fiber cells during the entire human lifespan. This discovery, combined with prior demonstration of pronounced changes in the lens lipid composition over a lifetime (Hughes et al. 2012), suggests that some lipid classes break down in the body over several decades, whereas others are stable. Such substantial changes in lens cell membranes may play a role in the genesis of age-related eye disorders. Whether long-lived lipids are present in other tissues is not yet known, but this may prove to be important in understanding the development of age-related diseases.
Human subjects: All work was approved by the human research ethics committees at the University of Sydney (#7292) and the University of Wollongong (HE 99/001). All human lenses from this study were donated to the Sydney Eye Bank.
- Jeremy Nathans, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, United States
© 2015, Hughes et al.
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