Decreased Cardiac Glutathione Peroxidase Levels and Enhanced Mandibular Apoptosis in Malformed Embryos of Diabetic Rats

  1. Parri Wentzel,
  2. Mattias Gäreskog and
  3. Ulf J. Eriksson
  1. From the Department of Medical Cell Biology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  1. Corresponding author: Parri Wentzel, parri.wentzel{at}


OBJECTIVE— To characterize normal and malformed embryos within the same litters from control and diabetic rats for expression of genes related to metabolism of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or glucose as well as developmental genes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— Embryos from nondiabetic and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats were collected on gestational day 11 and evaluated for gene expression (PCR) and distribution of activated caspase-3 and glutathione peroxidase (Gpx)-1 by immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS— Maternal diabetes (MD group) caused growth retardation and an increased malformation rate in the embryos of MD group rats compared with those of controls (N group). We found decreased gene expression of Gpx-1 and increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (Vegf-A) in malformed embryos of diabetic rats (MDm group) compared with nonmalformed littermates (MDn group). Alterations of messenger RNA levels of other genes were similar in MDm and MDn embryos. Thus, expression of copper zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD), manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), and sonic hedgehog homolog (Shh) were decreased, and bone morphogenetic protein-4 (Bmp-4) was increased, in the MD embryos compared with the N embryos. In MDm embryos, we detected increased activated caspase-3 immunostaining in the first visceral arch and cardiac area and decreased Gpx-1 immunostaining in the cardiac tissue; both findings differed from the caspase/Gpx-1 immunostaining of the MDn and N embryos.

CONCLUSIONS— Maternal diabetes causes growth retardation, congenital malformations, and decreased general antioxidative gene expression in the embryo. In particular, enhanced apoptosis of the first visceral arch and heart, together with decreased cardiac Gpx-1 levels, may compromise the mandible and heart and thus cause an increased risk of developing congenital malformation.


  • Published ahead of print at on 26 August 2008.

    Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See for details.

    The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    See accompanying commentary, p. 3187.

    • Accepted August 14, 2008.
    • Received January 9, 2008.
| Table of Contents