Effect of Antioxidant Treatment of Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats on Endoneurial Blood Flow, Motor Nerve Conduction Velocity, and Vascular Reactivity of Epineurial Arterioles of the Sciatic Nerve

  1. Lawrence J. Coppey,
  2. Jill S. Gellett,
  3. Eric P. Davidson,
  4. Joyce A. Dunlap,
  5. Donald D. Lund and
  6. Mark A. Yorek
  1. Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa


    We have shown that diabetes-induced reduction in endoneurial blood flow (EBF) and impaired endothelium-dependent vascular relaxation precede slowing of motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) and decreased sciatic nerve Na+/K+ ATPase activity. Furthermore, vascular dysfunction was accompanied by an accumulation of superoxide in arterioles that provide circulation to the sciatic nerve. In the present study, we examined the effect that treatment of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats with antioxidants has on vascular and neural function. Diabetic rats were treated with 0.5% α-lipoic acid as a diet supplement or with hydroxyethyl starch deferoxamine (HES-DFO) by weekly intravenous injections at a dose of 75 mg/kg. The treatments significantly improved diabetes-induced decrease in EBF, acetylcholine-mediated vascular relaxation in arterioles that provide circulation to the region of the sciatic nerve, and MNCV. The treatments also reduced the production of superoxide by the aorta and superoxide and peroxynitrite by arterioles that provide circulation to the region of the sciatic nerve. Treating diabetic rats with α-lipoic acid prevented the diabetes-induced increase in thiobarbituric acid–reactive substances in serum and significantly improved lens glutathione levels. In contrast, treating diabetic rats with HES-DFO did not prevent diabetes-induced changes of either of these markers of oxidative stress. Diabetes-induced increase in sciatic nerve conjugated diene levels was not improved by treatment with either α-lipoic acid or HES-DFO. Treating diabetic rats with α-lipoic acid but not HES-DFO partially improved sciatic nerve Na+/K+ ATPase activity and myo-inositol content. The increase in sciatic nerve sorbitol levels in diabetic rats was unchanged by either treatment. These studies suggest that diabetes-induced oxidative stress and the generation of superoxide may be partially responsible for the development of diabetic vascular and neural complications.


    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Mark A. Yorek, 3 E. 17 Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, IA 52246. E-mail: myorek{at}icva.gov.

      Received for publication 25 October 2000 and accepted in revised form 2 May 2001.

      EBF, endoneurial blood flow; EDHF, endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor; GSH, glutathione; HES-DFO, hydroxyethyl starch deferoxamine; MNCV, motor nerve conduction velocity; PSS, physiological saline solution; RLU, relative light unit; TBARS, thiobarbituric acid–reactive substance.

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