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J Physiol. 2007 Nov 1;584(Pt 3):921-33. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Beneficial effects of L-arginine nitric oxide-producing pathway in rats treated with alloxan.

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Department of Physiology, Institute for Biological Research, Sinia Stankovi, University of Belgrade, Bulevar Despota Stefana 142, 11060, Belgrade, Serbia.


In an attempt to elucidate molecular mechanisms and factors involved in beta cell regeneration, we evaluated a possible role of the L-arginine-nitric oxide (NO)-producing pathway in alloxan-induced diabetes mellitus. Diabetes was induced in male Mill Hill rats with a single alloxan dose (120 mg kg(-1)). Both non-diabetic and diabetic groups were additionally separated into three subgroups: (i) receiving L-arginine . HCl (2.25%), (ii) receiving L-NAME . HCl (0.01%) for 12 days as drinking liquids, and (iii) control. Treatment of diabetic animals started after diabetes induction (glucose level > or = 12 mmol l(-1)). We found that disturbed glucose homeostasis, i.e. blood insulin and glucose levels in diabetic rats was restored after L-arginine treatment. Immunohistochemical findings revealed that L-arginine had a favourable effect on beta cell neogenesis, i.e. it increased the area of insulin-immunopositive cells. Moreover, confocal microscopy showed colocalization of insulin and pancreas duodenum homeobox-1 (PDX-1) in both endocrine and exocrine pancreas. This increase in insulin-expressing cells was accompanied by increased cell proliferation (observed by proliferating cell nuclear antigen-PCNA immunopositivity) which occurred in a regulated manner since it was associated with increased apoptosis (detected by the TUNEL method). Furthermore, L-arginine enhanced both nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) immunopositivities. The effect of L-arginine on antioxidative defence was observed especially in restoring to control level the diabetes-induced increase in glutathione peroxidase activity. In contrast to L-arginine, diabetic pancreas was not affected by L-NAME supplementation. In conclusion, the results suggest beneficial L-arginine effects on alloxan-induced diabetes resulting from the stimulation of beta cell neogenesis, including complex mechanisms of transcriptional and redox regulation.

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