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Diabetologia. 1991 May;34(5):325-31.

Protection by free oxygen radical scavenging enzymes against glucose-induced embryonic malformations in vitro.

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Department of Medical Cell Biology, University of Uppsala, Sweden.


This study addresses the possibility that the teratogenic effects of a diabetic pregnancy are associated with increased embryonic activities of free oxygen radicals. Rat embryos were cultured in 50 mmol/l glucose for 48 h and subsequently showed pronounced growth retardation and severe malformations. The enzyme inducer citiolone and the free oxygen radical scavenging enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase protected against the disturbed growth and development of the embryos at 50 mmol/l glucose when added to the culture media. Enzymatic measurements indicated that citiolone induced an increased activity of superoxide dismutase in the embryonic tissues and that the added enzymes were taken up by both the yolk sac and the embryo proper. The protection against embryonic maldevelopment was thus conferred by agents that increased the free oxygen radical scavenging capacity of the embryonic tissues. The results suggest that a high glucose concentration in vitro causes embryonic dysmorphogenesis by generation of free oxygen radicals. An enhanced production of such radicals in embryonic tissues may be directly related to the increased risk of congenital malformations in diabetic pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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