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Diabetologia. 2006 May;49(5):1097-105. Epub 2006 Mar 16.

Cardiomyocyte dysfunction in insulin-resistant rats: a female advantage.

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College of Arts and Sciences, University of Maine at Farmington, Farmington, ME, USA.



The goal of this investigation was to determine whether there are sex-related differences in the development of cardiomyocyte dysfunction in prediabetic, insulin-resistant animals.


Male and female rats were maintained on a high-sucrose diet for 5-11 weeks, and mechanical properties of isolated ventricular myocytes were measured by high-speed video edge detection. Several in vitro interventions were used to manipulate intracellular Ca(2+) in order to determine whether altered Ca(2+) availability contributes to the cardiomyocyte dysfunction.


Myocyte shortening and relengthening were significantly slower in sucrose-fed (insulin-resistant) males than in starch-fed (normal) male rats, whereas only relengthening was slower in sucrose-fed females when compared with normal females. Areas under the contraction and relaxation phases for sucrose-fed males were also significantly larger than in diet-matched females, and the slowed cardiomyocyte mechanics appeared earlier in males (7 vs 10 weeks). Prolonged relaxation was ameliorated in myocytes from sucrose-fed female rats by all interventions (i.e. 10(-8) mol/l isoprenaline, elevated extracellular Ca(2+), and higher rates of stimulation). Twice as much extracellular Ca(2+) (4 mmol/l) was required to restore normal time courses of contraction and relaxation in sucrose-fed males than in females, and mechanical responses to higher frequency stimulation remained impaired (slower) in some myocytes from sucrose-fed male rats.


These data suggest that in myocytes from insulin-resistant rats altered Ca(2+) handling occurs, contributing to abnormal excitation-contraction coupling; female rats seem to have some cardioprotection during early stages in the progression towards type 2 diabetes. Females show delayed onset and milder abnormalities in metabolic status and cardiomyocyte function, but with a much tighter temporal coupling of these dysfunctions.

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