A Yeast Derived Substance May Prevent Diabetic Cataract

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 Diabetes News J E 4
Cataract is one of diabetes complications. The Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF), a yeast derived anti-diabetic substance, was examined on diabetic cataractogenesis. 15 oral doses of GTF administered to diabetic rats inhibited cataract formation in their eyes. Incubation of bovine lenses in high glucose medium decreased their optical quality. When GTF was added to high glucose medium this damage was prevented. This study presents GTF as a potent anti-cataract agent both in vivo and in vitro.

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- An article published in the April 2016 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine showed that a material extracted from yeast - "Glucose Tolerance Factor" (GTF) could prevent diabetic cataract. This study, led by Dr. Nitsa Mirsky from the University of Haifa in Israel, showed that when GTF was orally administrated to diabetic rats, the development of cataract in their eyes was prevented.

Cataract is the major cause of visual loss in older diabetic subjects and occurs at an earlier age than in non-diabetics. Hyperglycemia is the major cause of diabetic cataract: glycation of lens proteins leads to production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and creation of oxidative stress, decreased antioxidant enzymes activity, and aggregation of lens fibers. All of the above cause a reduction in lens transparency. Since there is no medication to prevent diabetic cataractogenesis, surgical removal of the damaged lens is the only available treatment. This procedure poses high economic problem, particularly in the third world.

Dr. Mirsky and her group previously demonstrated that diabetic rats treated with GTF showed a remarkable decline in both glucose and lipids in their blood. The investigators found that GTF also decreased the level of lipid peroxidation in the animals' organs. GTF reduced nephropathy and retinopathy in treated diabetic rats. Dr. Mirsky said that "our In vitro studies showed that GTF augmented glucose transport into adipocytes and myocytes. Recent studies done in our laboratory showed that GTF increased the phosphorylation and activation of key proteins along insulin cellular cascade, exhibiting insulin mimetic activity".

Other research groups showed that yeast derived extracts can also decrease blood glucose in diabetic patients. Not being a protein, GTF can be administered orally in contrast to insulin that has to be injected. The current study explored the damage induced by high glucose to the eye lens and assessed the protective effects of GTF both in vivo and in vitro. The in vivo study included: control healthy rats, diabetic untreated rats, and diabetic rats orally treated with GTF. The diabetic untreated rats developed cataracts, whereas the development of cataract was totally or partially prevented in GTF treated animals.

The In vitro studies were done on bovine lenses incubated for 14 days in an organ culture system developed in Dovrat's Laboratory, a co-investigator on this study. Half of the lenses were incubated in normal glucose conditions, and half in high glucose conditions. To one group of the normal or high glucose condition GTF was added. The optical quality of all the lenses was measured by an automated scanning laser system. The control lenses, with or without GTF addition, stayed clear and kept a good optical quality. High glucose conditions induced optical damage to the lenses. Addition of GTF to high glucose conditions prevented this damage. High glucose conditions also affected the activity of aldose reductase and Na/K ATPase in lens epithelial cells. Addition of GTF decreased these destructive changes induced by high glucose conditions. The amount of soluble cortical lens proteins was decreased and structural changes were detected in lenses incubated in high glucose medium. These changes could be prevented when GTF was added to the high glucose medium.

Dr. Mirsky stated that, "These recent studies showed the beneficial effects of GTF on preventing diabetic cataract and strengthen our prior findings on the anti-diabetic activity of GTF. This positions GTF as a source for a novel anti-diabetic medication in general, and an anti-cataract treatment in particular."

Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine, said, "Mirsky and colleagues provide evidence that 'Glucose Tolerance Factor' (GTF) may be a valuable treatment to prevent diabetic cataracts. Hopefully GTF will prove efficacious in future human trials."

Experimental Biology and Medicine is a journal dedicated to the publication of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in the biomedical sciences.  The journal was first established in 1903. Experimental Biology and Medicine is the journal of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine. To learn about the benefits of society membership visit If you are interested in publishing in the journal please visit

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SOURCE Experimental Biology and Medicine



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