Physiol. Res. 52: 159-169, 2003

Involvement of Nitric Oxide in the Regulation of Regional Hemodynamics in Streptozotocin-Diabetic Rats


Departments of 1Neuroscience/Ophthalmology and 2Medical Sciences, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden

Received February 8, 2002
Accepted June 24, 2002

In experimental and human diabetes mellitus, evidence for an impaired function of the vascular endothelium has been found and has been suggested to contribute to the development of vascular complications in this disease. The aim of the study was to evaluate possible regional hemodynamic in vivo differences between healthy and diabetic rats which would involve nitric oxide (NO). Central hemodynamics and regional blood flow (RBF) were studied using radioactive microspheres in early streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats and compared to findings in healthy control animals. This method provides a possibility to study the total blood flow and vascular resistance (VR) in several different organs simultaneously. L-NAME iv induced widespread vasoconstriction to a similar extent in both groups. In the masseter muscle of both groups, acetylcholine 2 g/kg per min, induced a RBF increase, which was abolished by pretreatment with L-NAME, suggesting NO as a mediator of vasodilation. In the heart muscle of both groups, acetylcholine alone was without effect while the combined infusion of acetylcholine and L-arginine induced an L-NAME-sensitive increase in RBF. The vasodilation induced by high-dose acetylcholine (10 g/kg per min) in the kidney was more pronounced in the STZ-diabetic rats. The results indicate no reduction in basal vasodilating NO-tone in the circulation of early diabetic rats. The sensitivity to vasodilating effects of acetylcholine at the level of small resistance arterioles vary between tissues but was not impaired in the diabetic rats. In the heart muscle the availability of L-arginine was found to limit the vasodilatory effect of acetylcholine in both healthy and diabetic rats. In conclusion, the results indicate a normal action of NO in the investigated tissues of the early STZ-diabetic rat.

Key words
Blood flow • Diabetes mellitus • Hemodynamics • Nitric oxide • Rat

Reprint requests
Elisabet Granstam, MD, PhD, Department of Neuroscience and Ophthalmology, University Hospital, S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. FAX +46-18-504 857 E-mail:

© 2003 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences