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Antioxidant enzyme alterations in experimental and clinical diabetes

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Previous studies from our laboratory have demonstrated the presence of complex alterations in the activities of antioxidant enzymes in various tissues of rats with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. In the present investigation, it is shown that rats made diabetic with alloxan (ALX), an agent differing from STZ both chemically and in its mechanism of diabetogenesis, show virtually identical tissue antioxidant enzyme changes which, as is the case with STZ, are preventable by insulin treatment. The finding that the patterns of antioxidant enzyme alterations in chemically-induced diabetes are independent of the diabetogenic agent used and the presence of similar abnormalities in tissues of spontaneously diabetic (BB) Wistar rats (particularly when diabetic control is less than optimal) suggest that the changes observed are a characteristic feature of the uncontrolled diabetic state and that these may be responsible for (or predispose to) the development of secondary complications in clinical diabetes. Comparative studies involving red cells of diabetic rats and human diabetics revealed a number of common changes, namely an increase in glutathione reductase activity, a decreased susceptibility to oxidative glutathione depletion (which was related to the presence of hyperglycemia) and an increased production of malondialdehyde (an indirect index of lipid peroxidation) in response to in vitro challenge with hydrogen peroxide. In the diabetic patients, the extent of this increase in susceptibility of red cell lipids to oxidation paralleled the severity of diabetic complications. Our results suggest that increased (or uncontrolled) oxidative activity may play an important role in the pathogenesis of complications associated with the chronic diabetic state.

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Author information

Correspondence to David V. Godin.

Additional information

This work was supported by grants from the British Columbia Health Care Research Foundation and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

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Godin, D.V., Wohaieb, S.A., Garnett, M.E. et al. Antioxidant enzyme alterations in experimental and clinical diabetes. Mol Cell Biochem 84, 223–231 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00421057

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Key words

  • Diabetic rat
  • lipid peroxidation
  • oxidative stress