ACE Inhibitor or Angiotensin II Receptor Antagonist Attenuates Diabetic Neuropathy in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats

  1. Lawrence J. Coppey,
  2. Eric P. Davidson,
  3. Thomas W. Rinehart,
  4. Jill S. Gellett,
  5. Christine L. Oltman,
  6. Donald D. Lund and
  7. Mark A. Yorek
  1. From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Mark A. Yorek, Room 204, Building 40, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, IA 52246. E-mail: mark-yorek{at}


ACE inhibition and/or blocking of the angiotensin II receptor are recognized as first-line treatment for nephropathy and cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients. However, little information is available about the potential benefits of these drugs on diabetic neuropathy. We examined vascular and neural activity in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats that were treated for 12 weeks with enalapril, an ACE inhibitor, or l-158809, an angiotensin II receptor blocker. A prevention protocol (group 1) as well as three intervention protocols (treatment was initiated after 4, 8, or 12 weeks of diabetes [groups 2, 3, and 4, respectively]) were used. Endoneurial blood flow and motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) were impaired in all groups of untreated diabetic rats. In group 1, treatment of diabetic rats with enalapril or l-158809 partially prevented the diabetes-induced decrease in endoneurial blood flow and MNCV. In groups 2–4, intervention with enalapril was more effective in reversing the diabetes-induced impairment in endoneurial blood flow and MNCV than l-158809. The superoxide level in the aorta and epineurial arterioles of diabetic rats was increased. Treatment of diabetic rats with enalapril or l-158809 reduced the superoxide level in the aorta in all groups but was less effective in epineurial arterioles. Acetylcholine and calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP) cause vasodilation in epineurial arterioles of the sciatic nerve, which was impaired by diabetes. Treatment of diabetic rats (all groups) with enalapril or l-158809 completely prevented/reversed the diabetes-induced impairment in CGRP-mediated vascular relaxation. Treatment with enalapril or l-158809 was also effective in improving impaired acetylcholine-mediated vasodilation, but the efficacy was diminished from groups 1 to 4. These studies suggest that ACE inhibitors and/or angiotensin II receptor blockers may be effective treatments for diabetes and vascular and neural dysfunction. However, the efficacy of these treatments may be dependent on when the treatment is initiated.


    • Accepted October 24, 2005.
    • Received July 11, 2005.
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