Phospholipid composition of the rat lens is independent of diet
Dietary fatty acids are known to influence the phospholipid composition of many tissues in the body, with lipid turnover occurring rapidly. The aim of this study was to investigate whether changes in the fatty acid composition of the diet can affect the phospholipid composition of the lens. Male Sprague Dawley rats were fed three diets with distinct profiles in both essential and non-essential fatty acids. After 8 weeks, lenses and skeletal muscle were removed, and the lenses sectioned into nuclear and cortical regions. In these experiments, the lens cortex was synthesised during the course of the variable lipid diet. Phospholipids were then identified by electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry, and quantified via the use of internal standards. The phospholipid compositions of the nuclear and cortical regions of the lens differed slightly between the two regions, but comparison of the equivalent regions across the diet groups showed remarkable similarity. In contrast, the phospholipid composition of skeletal muscle (medial gastrocnemius) in these rats varied significantly. This study provides the first direct evidence to show that the phospholipid composition of the lens is tightly regulated and thus appears to be independent of diet. As phospholipids determine membrane fluidity and influence the activity and function of integral membrane proteins, regulation of their composition may be important for the function of the lens.