A single injection of an overdose of selenite is known to induce cataracts in young rat eyes. In our current study, we have investigated the gene expression profiles of the cytochrome P450s (CYPs) in the ocular tissues of rats developing such selenite-induced cataracts. Seven days after the injection of selenite, the expression levels of the CYP1A1 and CYP2E1 genes in the lenses of these animals increased and a slight reduction in the expression of the CYP3A gene family could be observed in the extralenticular tissues. When pantethine, an antioxidant, was administered 30 min before selenite injection, the extent of the CYP gene expression changes diminished. These results suggest that selenite-induced oxidative stress may play a role in both the induction and downregulation of CYP genes. In addition, the elevated expression of CYP1A1 and CYP2E1 in the lens may underlie the enhancement of cataract development induced by selenite.
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