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Metabolism. 2006 Apr;55(4):533-40.

Effect of inhibition of alpha-glucosidase on age-related glucose intolerance and pancreatic atrophy in rats.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Metabolism, School of Medicine, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Yahatanishi-ku, Kitakyushu 807-8555, Japan.


Oral administration of alpha-glucosidase inhibitor reduces postprandial serum glucose and insulin concentrations; thus, alpha-glucosidase inhibitor is used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus worldwide. In our study, we have evaluated the effect of alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, acarbose, on age-related glucose intolerance and pancreatic atrophy in the Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO) rat. The first group of rats received a standard rat diet (control). The second group received a diet containing acarbose (150 mg/100 g food) from 12 to 28 weeks and then switched to a standard rat diet until 72 weeks of age (A12-28W). The third group was administered the same diet containing acarbose from 12 to 72 weeks of age (A12-72W). Fasting serum glucose and insulin concentrations gradually increased with increasing age in the control group, but these increases were completely prevented (A12-72W) or delayed (A12-28W) by acarbose treatment. In addition, acarbose treatment prevented the deterioration in insulin resistance with increasing age. At 72 weeks of age, pancreatic wet weight and DNA content in the A12-72W group were significantly higher than those in the control group. Although most islets were enlarged, and some portions of pancreatic tissue contained fatty and connective tissue in the control group, these alterations were mild in the A12-28W group and remained minimal in the A12-72W group. Our study suggests that acarbose is useful in the prevention of age-related glucose intolerance and pancreatic atrophy.

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