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International Journal of Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 69-79

High Glucose-enhanced Acetylcholine Stimulated CGMP Masks Impaired Vascular Reactivity in Tail Arteries from Short-Term Hyperglycemic Rats

1Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, Wayne State University School of Medicine and VAMCI, Detroit, MI, USA
2Department of Exercise and Movement Science, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA
3Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, SUNY HSC at Brooklyn, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Box 1205, Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA

Received 16 May 1999; Revised 14 October 1999; Accepted 15 October 1999

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Impaired vascular endothelium-dependent relaxation and augmented contractile responses have been reported in several models of long-term hyperglycemia. However, the effects of short-term ambient hyperglycemia are poorly understood. Since oxidative stress has been implicated as a contributor to impaired vascular function, we investigated the following:

Aims: (1) the effects of high glucose exposure in vitro (7 – 10 days) on vascular relaxation to acetylcholine (Ach) and contractility to norepinephrine (NE) and KCl; (2) if NO-dependent cGMP generation is affected under these conditions; and (3) aortic redox status.

Methods: Non-diabetic rat tail artery rings were incubated in normal (5mM) (control NG) or high (20mM) glucose buffer (control HG). Vascular responses to Ach, NE and KCl were compared to those of streptozotocin (SZ) diabetic animals in the same buffers (diabetic NG, diabetic HG). Ach stimulated cGMP levels were quantitated as an indirect assessment of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) production and oxidative stress evaluated by measuring vascular glutathione and oxidized glutathione.

Results: Rings from diabetic rats in NG showed impaired relaxation to Ach (P = 0.002) but relaxed normally, when maintained in HG. Similarly, contractile responses to NE were attenuated in diabetic rings in NG but similar to controls in HG. HG markedly augmented maximal contraction to KCl compared to control and diabetic vessels in NG (P < 0.0001). Diabetic vessels in a hyperosmolar, but normoglycemic, milieu respond like those in HG. in vitro, HG for 2 hours changed neither relaxation nor contractile responses to NE and KCl in control rings. Basal cGMP levels were lower in aortae from diabetic animals pre-incubated in NG than in HG/LG or in control rings in NG (P < 0.05). cGMP responses to Ach were exaggerated in diabetic vessels in HG (P = 0.035 vs. control NG, P = 0.043 vs. diabetic NG) but not different between control and diabetic rings in NG. Vessels from diabetic animals had lower levels of GISH (P < 0.0001) and higher levels of GSSG (P < 0.0001) indicating oxidative stress.

Conclusions: Our data indicate that endothelium dependent relaxation is altered early in the diabetic state and that increased NO responses may compensate for augmented oxidative stress but the lack of effect of short-term exposure of normal vessels to HG suggests that short-term hyperglycemia per se does not cause abnormal vascular responses.