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Free Radic Biol Med. 2001 Jul 1;31(1):125-35.

Effect of alpha-lipoic acid on vascular responses and nociception in diabetic rats.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.


Oxidative stress contributes to the vascular and neurological complications of diabetes mellitus. The aim was to evaluate the effects of treatment with the radical scavenger and transition metal chelator, alpha-lipoic acid, on endothelium-dependent relaxation of the mesenteric vasculature and on superior cervical ganglion blood flow in 8 week streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. alpha-Lipoic acid effects on small nerve fiber-mediated nociception were also monitored. For the in vitro phenylephrine-precontracted mesenteric vascular bed, diabetes caused a 31% deficit in maximum endothelium-dependent relaxation to acetylcholine, and a 4-fold reduction in sensitivity. alpha-Lipoic acid gave 85% protection against these defects. Acetylcholine responses are mediated by nitric oxide and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor: isolation of the latter by nitric oxide synthase blockade revealed a 74% diabetic deficit that was halved by alpha-lipoic acid. Superior cervical ganglion blood flow, 52% reduced by diabetes, was dose-dependently restored by alpha-lipoic acid (ED(50), 44 mg/kg/d). Diabetic rats exhibited mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia, which were abolished by alpha-lipoic acid treatment. Thus, diabetes impairs nitric oxide and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor-mediated vasodilation. This contributes to reduced neural perfusion, and may be responsible for altered nociceptive function. The effect of alpha-lipoic acid strongly implicates oxidative stress in these events and suggests a potential therapeutic approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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