Electrical inhibition of lens epithelial cell proliferation: an additional factor in secondary cararact?

Entong Wang, Brian Reid, Noemi Lois, John Vincent Forrester, Colin Darnley McCaig, Min Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Cataract is the most common cause of blindness but is at least curable by surgery. Unfortunately, many patients gradually develop the complication of posterior capsule opacification (PCO) or secondary cataract. This arises from stimulated cell growth within the lens capsule and can greatly impair vision. It is not fully understood why residual lens epithelial cell growth occurs after surgery. We propose and show that cataract surgery might remove an important inhibitory factor for lens cell growth, namely electric fields. The lens generates a unique pattern of electric currents constantly flowing out from the equator and entering the anterior and posterior poles. We show here that cutting and removing part of the anterior capsule as in cataract surgery significantly decreases the equatorial outward electric currents. Application of electric fields in culture inhibits proliferation of human lens epithelial cells. This inhibitory effect is likely to be mediated through a cell cycle control mechanism that decreases entry of cells into S phase from G1 phase by decreasing the G1-specific cell cycle protein cyclin E and increasing the cyclin-Cdk complex inhibitor p27(kip1). Capsulorrhexis in vivo, which reduced endogenous lens electric fields, significantly increased LEC growth. This, together with our previous findings that electric fields have significant effects on the direction of lens cell migration, points to a controlling mechanism for the aberrant cell growth in posterior capsule opacification. A novel approach to control growth of lens epithelial cells using electric fields combined with other controlling mechanisms may be more effective in the prevention and treatment of this common complication of cataract surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-844
Number of pages2
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • posterior capsule opacification
  • electric fields
  • lens epithelium
  • cell cycle
  • frequency
  • directed migration
  • surface charge
  • in vivo
  • field
  • growth
  • currents
  • regeneration
  • orientation


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