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Diabetologia. 2001 Apr;44(4):464-70.

High glucose induces ventricular instability and increases vasomotor tone in rats.

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Department of Geriatrics and Metabolic Diseases, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.



To investigate cardiac repolarization time in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats and isolated hearts perfused with high glucose concentration.


We studied the effects of streptozotocin-induced diabetes on the cardiac repolarisation time (Q-T interval) in Sprague-Dawley rats during a 4-day period of hyperglycaemia and a subsequent 4-day period of normoglycaemia. The Q-T interval was also evaluated in isolated hearts of non-diabetic rats, in condition of high glucose concentration.


Hyperglycaemia in streptozotocin rats increased mean blood pressure and led to a significant (p < 0.001) prolongation of Q-T values, which normalized after 4 days of normoglycaemia with intravenous insulin infusion. Perfusion of isolated hearts in condition of high glucose concentration caused a significant prolongation of Q-T values and increased coronary perfusion pressure (p < 0.001). The effects of high glucose were completely prevented by glutathione and almost completely by L-arginine, the natural precursor of nitric oxide. In a condition of normal glucose, L-NAME, an inhibitor of endogenous nitric oxide synthesis, increased both Q-T and CPP values to levels similar to those induced by high glucose (p < 0.001). Verapamil completely prevented Q-T lengthening and reduced by about two-thirds CPP values (p < 0.001).


Streptozotocin-diabetes in rats produces significant haemodynamic and electric perturbations that are reversed by normoglycaemia. Moreover, high glucose increases Q-T and CPP values in the isolated hearts of non-diabetic rats. The latter effects are reversed by glutathione and L-arginine, partially reversed by verapamil and mimicked by L-NAME. By increasing the production of free radicals, high glucose could reduce nitric oxide availability to target cells inducing a state of increased vasomotor tone and ventricular instability.

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