, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 167-168
Date: 13 Apr 2011


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I asked Suso Pintor about 12 years ago to come up with an explanation about why lens cells in the eye contain such high levels of adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP). He has at last come up with a hypothesis which I think is worth sharing with you in the following commentary.

The lens is particularly vulnerable to volume change and swelling (which probably results in the release of ATP), which causes opacification and cataract. Furthermore, an increase in intraocular pressure releases ATP into the anterior chamber of the eye, and it was suggested that the elevated ATP may contribute to the extreme pain experienced by patients with both closed- and open-angle glaucoma [1, 2]. Levels of ATP are decreased significantly in the lenses of the UPL rat, a cataract model, and it was suggested that the ATP decrease is associated with cataract development [3]. The embryonic lens has been shown to promote eye development and plays a central role in cave fish eye degeneration [4]. Perhaps released ATP i