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Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2001 Jan-Feb;17(1):55-66.

Treatment of diabetes with vanadium salts: general overview and amelioration of nutritionally induced diabetes in the Psammomys obesus gerbil.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Diabetes Research Unit, Hadassah University Hospital and Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.



Numerous investigations have demonstrated the beneficial effect of vanadium salts on diabetes in streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats, in rodents with genetically determined diabetes and in human subjects. The amelioration of diabetes included the abolition of hyperglycemia, preservation of insulin secretion, reduction in hepatic glucose production, enhanced glycolysis and lipogenesis and improved muscle glucose uptake through GLUT4 elevation and translocation. The molecular basis of vanadium salt action is not yet fully elucidated. Although evidence has been provided that the insulin receptor is activated, the possibility exists that cytosolic non-receptor tyrosine kinase, direct phosphorylation of IRS-1 and activation of PI3-K, leading to GLUT4 translocation, are involved. The raised phosphorylation of proteins in the insulin signaling pathway appears to be related to the inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTPase) activity by vanadium salts.


The model utilized in our study was Psammomys obesus (sand rat), a desert gerbil which becomes hyperglycemic and hyperinsulinemic on an ad libitum high energy (HE) diet. In contrast to the previously investigated insulin deficient models, vanadyl sulphate was used to correct insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, which led to beta-cell loss. Administration of 5 mg/kg vanadyl sulfate for 5 days resulted in prolonged restoration of normoglycemia and normoinsulinemia in most animals, return of glucose tolerance to normal, and a reduction of hepatic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase activity. There was no change in food consumption and in regular growth during or after the vanadyl treatment. Pretreatment with vanadyl sulfate, followed by transfer to a HE diet, significantly delayed the onset of hyperglycemia. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp of vanadyl sulfate treated Psammomys demonstrated an improvement in glucose utilization. However, vanadyl sulfate was ineffective when administered to animals which lost their insulin secretion capacity on protracted HE diet, but substantially reduced the hyperglycemia when given together with exogenous insulin. The in vitro insulin activation of liver and muscle insulin receptors isolated from vanadyl treated Psammomys was ineffective. The in vivo vanadyl treatment restored muscle GLUT4 total protein and mRNA contents in addition to membrane GLUT4 protein, in accordance with the increased glucose utilization during the clamp study. These results indicate that short-term vanadyl sulfate treatment corrects the nutritionally induced, insulin resistant diabetes. This action requires the presence of insulin for its beneficial effect. Thus, vanadyl action in P. obesus appears to be the result of insulin potentiation rather than mimicking, with activation of the signaling pathway proteins leading to GLUT4 translocation, probably distal to the insulin receptor.

Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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