Glutathione levels are reduced in diabetic rat retina but are not influenced by ischemia followed by recirculation

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Abstract

Free radicals have recently been proposed to play a role in the development of diabetic retinopathy. The aim of the present study was to examine whether the abnormal metabolism caused by diabetes and by ischemia followed by recirculation interferes with a free radical enzyme defense system in the retina, ie, glutathione. Diabetes mellitus was induced by injecting streptozotocin ([STZ] 60 mg/kg body weight [BW] intraperitoneally). After 2 and 6 months, respectively, glutathione levels were measured in the retina and compared against those of age-matched normal control rats. Retinal ischemia was induced by careful ligation of the vessels and the accompanying optic nerve behind the left eye bulb. The right eye served as a control. After 90 minutes of ischemia, retinal circulation was reestablished by removing the ligature. Two-month-old diabetic rats were kept for an additional 3 days and normal rats for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 3 days before they were killed for measurement of glutathione. Retinal levels of glutathione were significantly lower in 6-month diabetic compared with 2-month diabetic rats (16.6 +/- 2.9 v 19.0 +/- 2.2 nmol/mg protein, P < .05) and 6-month normal control rats (16.6 +/- 2.9 v 21.0 +/- 2.1 nmol/mg protein, P < .001). Ischemia followed by recirculation did not influence the total tissue level of glutathione either in 2-month-old diabetic rats or in normal rats. The present study indicates that the abnormal metabolism caused by diabetes, rather than by changes in retinal circulation, results in an impaired defense mechanism against free radicals, a factor that may be of importance for the development of diabetic retinopathy. However, since glutathione levels in the present study were measured in the whole retina, it cannot be excluded that particular cell types, such as vascular cells, show an alteration in glutathione that is masked by the glutathione levels in the other nonvascular cells of the retina. Studies using other techniques are needed to further explore this subject.

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  • Cell and Molecular Biology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-272
JournalMetabolism, Clinical and Experimental
Volume47
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Division of Microbiology, Immunology and Glycobiology - MIG (013025200), Division of Clinical Chemistry and Pharmacology (013250300), Unit on Vascular Diabetic Complications (013241510)