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August 1962

The Lipids of Arcus Senilis

Author Affiliations

Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Harvard University Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1962;68(2):264-266. doi:10.1001/archopht.1962.00960030268020

A recent report1 on the pathology and histochemistry of arcus senilis emphasized the lipid nature of the corneal deposits and suggested that an understanding of arcus formation might explain some of the factors involved in fat deposition in other nonadipose tissues of the body.

Although these investigators identified the components of arcus as probably a cholesterol derivative with some associated phospholipid and glyceride, the values obtained were necessarily only semiquantitative, and the presence of abnormal quantities of the minor components remains equivocal. Indeed, the lack of a definitive histochemical test for glyceride suggests the possibility that this class of compounds may not contribute, even in a minor fashion, to the observed arcus.

The purpose of this investigation was to identify by means of biochemical procedures the principal lipid components of arcus senilis and to establish the quantities of these materials present in the cornea and the sclera.

Methods and 

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