Regional distribution of phospholipids in porcine vitreous humor

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This project explores the regional phospholipid distribution in porcine vitreous humor, retina, and lens. Matrix-assisted laser desorption mass spectrometry has been used previously to image lipids, proteins, and other metabolites in retinas and lenses. However, the regional composition of phospholipids in vitreous humors is not known. To address this issue, we have applied this mass spectral method to explore the regional phospholipid distribution in porcine vitreous humor both ex-situ and in-vitro. To establish the possible source(s) of phospholipids in the vitreous humor, compositional studies of the lens and retina were also pursued. Due to the overall low levels of phospholipids in vitreous humor, it was necessary to optimize the experimental approaches for ex-situ and in-vitro studies. The sensitivity observed in the spectra of methanol extracts from the lens and retina was higher than that for methanol:chloroform extracts, but the compositional trends were the same. A fourfold improvement in sensitivity was observed in the analysis of vitreous humor extracts obtained with the Bligh and Dyer protocol relative to the other two extraction methods. For ex-situ studies, the ‘stamp method’ with para-nitroaniline as the matrix was chosen. Throughout the vitreous humor, phosphatidylcholines were the most abundant phospholipids. In-vitro results showed higher relative levels of phospholipids compared to the ‘stamp’ method. However, more details in the regional phospholipid distribution were provided by the ex-situ approach. Both in-vitro and ex-situ results indicated higher levels of phospholipids in the posterior vitreous region, followed by the anterior and central regions. The posterior region contained more unsaturated species whereas more saturated phospholipids were detected in the anterior region. The observed trends suggest that the phospholipids detected in the posterior vitreous humor migrate from the retina and associated vasculature while those present in the anterior regions are likely to derive from the lens. Not all species found in the lens were observed in the vitreous humor. For example, whereas cholesterol was present in lens extracts, it was not detected in the vitreous humor. Overall, the higher relative abundance of unsaturated species in the posterior vitreous humor and also present in the retina suggests that these species may be able to disrupt the water-collagen-hyaluronan network and contribute to vitreous liquefaction.

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