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Diabetologia. 2004 Apr;47(4):676-85.

Generation of hydrogen peroxide and failure of antioxidative responses in pancreatic islets of male C57BL/6 mice are associated with diabetes induced by multiple low doses of streptozotocin.

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  • 1German Diabetes Center, German Diabetes Research Institute, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.



We studied the impact of the reactive oxygen species hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and antioxidative enzymes on the pathogenesis of diabetes induced by multiple low doses of streptozotocin (MLD-STZ).


We isolated the islets of C57BL/6 mice. For ex vivo analyses, mice had been injected with MLD-STZ. For in vitro analyses, islets were incubated with different concentrations of STZ, with either of the two moieties of STZ, methylnitrosourea and D-glucose, with H2O2 or with alloxan. Levels of H2O2 generation were measured by the scopoletin method. We assessed mRNA expression of Cu/Zn and Mn superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) by semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction. GPX activity was measured spectrophotometrically. In vitro, beta cell function was assayed by measuring basal and D-glucose-stimulated release of immunoreactive insulin using an ELISA kit.


Ex vivo, MLD-STZ significantly increased H2O2 generation in male but not in female mice. It also increased GPX activity and mRNA expression of catalase, Cu/Zn and Mn superoxide dismutase, and GPX in female but not in male mice. In vitro, STZ significantly stimulated H2O2 generation in islets of male mice only. In male islets, alloxan increased H202 generation at a highly toxic concentration, but D-glucose and methylnitrosourea did not. Both STZ and H2O2 dose-dependently inhibited the release of immunoreactive insulin after a D-glucose challenge.


The results indicate that H2O2 participates in the pathogenesis of MLD-STZ diabetes in male C57BL/6 mice, which do not up-regulate antioxidative enzymes in islets. Conversely, female mice are protected, probably due to an increment of several enzymes with the potential to detoxify H2O2.

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