J Proteomics. 2023 Jul 17:104972. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2023.104972. Online ahead of print.
Congenital cataracts are a threat to visual development in children, and the visual impairment persists after surgical treatment; however, the mechanisms involved remain unclear. Previous clinical studies have identified the effect of congenital cataracts on retinal morphology and function. To further understand the molecular mechanisms by which congenital cataracts affect retinal development, we analyzed retina samples from 7-week-old GJA8-knockout rabbits with congenital cataracts and controls by four-dimensional label-free quantification proteomics and untargeted metabolomics. Bioinformatics analysis of proteomic data showed that retinol metabolism, oxidative phosphorylation, and fatty acid degradation pathways were downregulated in the retinas of rabbits with congenital cataracts, indicating that their visual cycle and mitochondrial function were affected. Additional validation of differentially abundant proteins related to the visual cycle and mitochondrial function was performed using Parallel reaction monitoring and western blot experiments. Untargeted metabolome analysis showed significant upregulation of the antioxidant glutathione and ascorbic acid in the retinas of rabbits with congenital cataracts, indicating that their oxidative stress balance was not dysregulated. SIGNIFICANCE: Congenital cataracts in children can alter retinal structure and function, yet the mechanisms are uncertain. Here is the first study to use proteomics and metabolomics approaches to investigate the effects of congenital cataracts on retinal development in the early postnatal period. Our findings suggest that congenital cataracts have an impact on the retinal visual cycle and mitochondrial function. These findings give insight on the molecular pathways behind congenital cataract-induced visual function impairment in the early postnatal period.