The ultrastructure of fiber cells in primate lenses: A model for studying membrane senescence

J. R. Kuszak, C. A. Ennesser, J. Umlas, M. S. Macsai-Kaplan, R. S. Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We have compared the surface morphology of the youngest (cortical) fiber cells with that of the most senescent (nuclear) fiber cells in monkey and baboon crystalline lenses by stereo scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and thick-section stereo transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Both the broad and the narrow faces of the most senescent fiber cells featured distinctive, polygonal areas (domains) of furrowed cell membrane. The domains ranged n size from 2.42 to 8.78 μm2. Stereopair SEM and TEM micrographs demonstrated precisely oriented microvilli measuring approximately 0.14 μm in diameter and ranging in length from 1.27 to 4.65 μm overlying each ridge in the domains. Formation of microvilli on senescent cells has been noted in other types of aging cells but they are precisely arranged and their function is unknown. Since every fiber cell remains in a fixed location (relative to other fiber cells) throughout life, the lens provides a unique model to study structure-function relationships of senescent microvilli in situ. The discovery of an age-related elaboration of numerous microvilli on senescent fiber cells of noncataractous lenses invalidates the currently accepted theory that close, parallel apposition of the broad faces of lens fiber cells is necessary for the lens to be transparent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-74
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Ultrastructure Research and Molecular Structure Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Molecular Biology


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