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Diabetes. 2002 Oct;51(10):3095-101.

Nitric oxide prevents aldose reductase activation and sorbitol accumulation during diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, USA.


Increased glucose utilization by aldose reductase (AR) has been implicated in the development of diabetes complications. However, the mechanisms that regulate AR during diabetes remain unknown. Herein we report that several nitric oxide (NO) donors prevent ex vivo synthesis of sorbitol in erythrocytes obtained from diabetic or nondiabetic rats. Compared with erythrocytes of nondiabetic rats, the AR activity in the erythrocytes of diabetic rats was less sensitive to inhibition by NO donors or by AR inhibitors-sorbinil or tolrestat. Treatment with N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), an inhibitor of NO synthesis, enhanced AR activity and sorbitol accumulation in tissues of nondiabetic rats. Application of transdermal nitroglycerin patches or treatment with L-arginine did not inhibit AR activity or sorbitol accumulation in the tissues of nondiabetic animals. Treatment with L-NAME increased, whereas treatment with L-arginine or nitroglycerine patches decreased AR activity and sorbitol content in tissues of diabetic rats. These observations suggest that NO maintains AR in an inactive state and that this repression is relieved in diabetic tissues. Thus, increasing NO availability may be a useful strategy for inhibiting the polyol pathway and preventing the development of diabetes complications.

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