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International Journal of Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 3 (2002), Issue 4, Pages 247-255

The Role of Reactive Oxygen Species in Diabetes-Induced Anomalies in Embryos of Cohen Diabetic Rats

1Laboratory of Teratology, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Hebrew University–Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem 91120, Israel
2Department of Pediatrics, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel

Received 26 February 2002; Accepted 22 July 2002

Copyright © 2002 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.


The role of the antioxidant defense mechanism in diabetesinduced anomalies was studied in the Cohen diabetes-sensitive (CDs) and -resistant (CDr) rats, a genetic model of nutritionally induced type 2 diabetes mellitus. Embryos, 12.5-day-old, of CDs and CDr rats fed regular diet (RD) or a diabetogenic high-sucrose diet (HSD) were monitored for growth retardation and congenital anomalies. Activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalaselike enzymes and levels of ascorbic acid (AA), uric acid (UA), and dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA) were measured in embryonic homogenates. When fed RD, CDs rats had a decreased rate of pregnancy, and an increased embryonic resorption. CDs embryos were smaller than CDr embryos; 46% were maldeveloped and 7% exhibited neural tube defects (NTDs). When fed HSD, rate of pregnancy was reduced, resorption rate was greatly increased (56%; P < .001), 47.6% of the embryos were retrieved without heart beats, and 27% exhibited NTD. In contrast, all the CDr embryos were normal when fed RD or HSD. Activity of SOD and catalase was not different in embryos of CDs and CDr rats fedRD. When fed HSD, levels of AA were significantly reduced, the ratio DHAA/AA was significantly increased, and SOD activity was not sufficiently increased when compared to embryos of CDr. The reduced fertility of the CDs rats, the growth retardation, and NTD seem to be genetically determined. Maternal hyperglycemia seems to result in environmentally induced embryonic oxidative stress, resulting in further embryonic damage.