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Diabetes. 2001 Sep;50(9):2114-25.

Overexpression of Cu2+/Zn2+ superoxide dismutase protects against early diabetic glomerular injury in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Dpartment of Medicine, VA Medical Center and University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15240, USA.


Ex vivo and in vitro observations implicate superoxide as a mediator of cell injury in diabetes, but in vivo evidence is lacking. In the current studies, parameters of glomerular injury were examined in hemizygous nondiabetic transgenic mice (SOD) and streptozotocin-diabetic (D) transgenic mice (D-SOD), which overexpress human cytoplasmic Cu2+/Zn2+ superoxide dismutase (SOD-1), and in corresponding wild-type littermates (WT, D-WT) after 4 months of diabetes. In both SOD and D-SOD mice, renal cortical SOD-1 activity was twofold higher than values in the WT mice; blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (GHb) levels did not differ in the two diabetic groups. Urinary albumin excretion, fractional albumin clearance, urinary transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) excretion, glomerular volume, glomerular content of immunoreactive TGF-beta, and collagen alpha1 (IV) and renal cortical malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were significantly higher in D-WT mice compared with corresponding values in D-SOD mice. Glomerular volume, glomerular content of TGF-beta and collagen IV, renal cortical MDA, and urinary excretion of TGF-beta in D-SOD mice did not differ significantly from corresponding values in either the nondiabetic SOD or WT mice. In separate groups of mice studied after 8 months of diabetes, mesangial matrix area, calculated as a fraction of total glomerular tuft area, and plasma creatinine were significantly higher in D-WT but not in D-SOD mice, compared with corresponding values in the nondiabetic mice. In vitro infection of mesangial cells (MC) with a recombinant adenovirus encoding human SOD-1 increased SOD-1 activity threefold over control cells and prevented the reduction of aconitase activity, an index of cellular superoxide, and the increase in collagen synthesis that otherwise occurred in control MC in response to culture with 300 or 500 mg/dl glucose. Thus, increases in cellular SOD-1 activity attenuate diabetic renal injury in vivo and also prevent stimulation of MC matrix protein synthesis induced in vitro by high glucose.

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