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Nutrition. 2012 May;28(5):520-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.09.017. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

High-sugar intake does not exacerbate metabolic abnormalities or cardiac dysfunction in genetic cardiomyopathy.

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Division of Cardiology and Department of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



A high-sugar intake increases heart disease risk in humans. In animals, sugar intake accelerates heart failure development by increased reactive oxygen species (ROS). Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) can fuel ROS production by providing reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) for superoxide generation by NADPH oxidase. Conversely, G6PD also facilitates ROS scavenging using the glutathione pathway. We hypothesized that a high-sugar intake would increase flux through G6PD to increase myocardial NADPH and ROS and accelerate cardiac dysfunction and death.


Six-week-old TO-2 hamsters, a non-hypertensive model of genetic cardiomyopathy caused by a δ-sarcoglycan mutation, were fed a long-term diet of high starch or high sugar (57% of energy from sucrose plus fructose).


After 24 wk, the δ-sarcoglycan-deficient animals displayed expected decreases in survival and cardiac function associated with cardiomyopathy (ejection fraction: control 68.7 ± 4.5%, TO-2 starch 46.1 ± 3.7%, P < 0.05 for TO-2 starch versus control; TO-2 sugar 58.0 ± 4.2%, NS, versus TO-2 starch or control; median survival: TO-2 starch 278 d, TO-2 sugar 318 d, P = 0.133). Although the high-sugar intake was expected to exacerbate cardiomyopathy, surprisingly, there was no further decrease in ejection fraction or survival with high sugar compared with starch in cardiomyopathic animals. Cardiomyopathic animals had systemic and cardiac metabolic abnormalities (increased serum lipids and glucose and decreased myocardial oxidative enzymes) that were unaffected by diet. The high-sugar intake increased myocardial superoxide, but NADPH and lipid peroxidation were unaffected.


A sugar-enriched diet did not exacerbate ventricular function, metabolic abnormalities, or survival in heart failure despite an increase in superoxide production.

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