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Eur J Clin Invest. 1996 Dec;26(12):1143-9.

Effects of insulin treatment on endoneurial and systemic oxidative stress in relation to nerve conduction in streptozotocin-diabetic rats.

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Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neurosciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


As increased oxidative stress is probably a pathogenetic factor in the development of diabetic complications, we studied nerve function and endogenous antioxidants in plasma, erythrocytes and sciatic nerve of untreated and insulin-treated streptozotocin-diabetic rats. After 18 weeks, the diabetes-induced sciatic nerve conduction velocity deficits were approximately 65% improved by insulin (P < 0.001). Plasma superoxide dismutase was significantly reduced in diabetes (P < 0.01); smaller decreases in plasma catalase and glutathione levels were observed. These changes were corrected by insulin treatment. In erythrocytes, decreased superoxide dismutase (P < 0.05) and increased total glutathione levels (P < 0.05) were found. All effects of diabetes, including a rise in plasma malonyldialdehyde (P < 0.05), were partially reversed by insulin treatment. In nervous tissue, diabetes caused increased catalase activity, uninfluenced by insulin (P < 0.05). Nerve superoxide dismutase and glutathione did not change. The data suggest that in diabetes, changes in systemic rather than endoneurial oxidative stress lead to nerve dysfunction.

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