Newswise — Rockville, Md. – New research out of the University of Delaware has identified age- and sex-dependent changes in gene expression, highlighting differences between how male and female lenses age. The results will be presented at the virtual 2021 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).  

Doctoral research performed by Adam P. Faranda, MS, who works in the laboratory of Melinda K. Duncan, PhDFARVO, sought to identify genes affected by age that may contribute to senile cataractan age-related, vision-impairing disease characterized by gradual progressive clouding and thickening of the lens of the eye. Despite being the most prevalent cause of blindness in the world today, relatively little information was available about how lens gene expression changes globally with age, and how these changes might lead to cataract formation. Further, although women develop senile cataract at higher rates than men, even less was known about whether sex affects the lens transcriptome. For this reason, Faranda notes, it was especially important for us to consider biological sex as a study variable.  

They discovered that young adult male and female lenses express a nearly identical set of genes, but significant sex-specific differences develop with advanced age, demonstrating it is crucial for studies investigating the aging lens to include animals of both sexes, and be sufficiently powered to disentangle sex dependent differences in lens biology.  

Understanding the potential implications of the research, Faranda noted that the research team has, “made this rich data set available to the public via the Gene Expression Omnibus, in order to help the lens community identify genes likely to be important for their investigations of lens aging, sex specific differences in cataract pathogenesis, and posterior capsular opacification.” 

This research was supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI) (5R01EY028597-16), The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) (5P20GM103446-20) and the National Institute of Aging (NIA). 

Abstract title: Influence of Sex on the Aging Lens Transcriptome 

Presentation start/end time: Thursday, May 6, 2021, 5:15 – 7pm ET 

Presentation number: 3546643 


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The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include approximately 10,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at 

Meeting Link: 2021 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)