Sorbitol accumulation plays an important role in diabetic complications involving the kidney, nerves, retina, lens and cardiac muscle. To investigate the influence of thyroid hormone on the sorbitol pathway, we studied the effects of thyroid hormone on polyol metabolism in normal and diabetic rats. Rats were divided into three groups: controls, streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic euthyroid rats (DM) and STZ-induced diabetic hyperthyroid (thyroxine-injected) rats (DM+HT). The sorbitol (Sor) concentrations in the kidney, liver and sciatic nerve (2.53±0.74, 0.97±0.16 and 24.0±5.1 nmol/mg protein, respectively) of the DM rats were significantly higher than those (1.48±0.31, 0.58±0.13 and 3.1±0.6 nmol/mg protein) of the control rats. The Sor concentrations in the kidney and sciatic nerve of the DM+HT rats (1.26±0.29 and 9.40±1.2 nmol/mg protein) were significantly lower than those in the DM rats. These values were reduced in the liver, unchanged in the kidney, and increased in the sciatic nerve from the hyperthyroid rats without diabetes. Thyroid hormone reduced the aldose reductase (AR) activities in the kidney, liver and sciatic nerve of the DM rats, and similarly reduced AR in the kidney and liver, but not in the sciatic nerve, of the non-diabetic rats. The sorbitol dehydrogenase (SDH) activities were decreased by thyroid hormone in the kidney and liver but not the sciatic nerve of DM rats. In the non-diabetic rats, this enzyme activity was decreased in liver, but not in kidney or sciatic nerve. A positive correlation between the Sor concentration and AR activity was observed in the kidney and liver but not in the sciatic nerve from control, DM and DM+HT rats. A negative correlation was observed between the Sor concentration and SDH activities in the same organs. These data suggest that thyroid hormone affects the sorbitol pathway, but the detailed mechanism whereby this hormone reduces the sorbitol content (especially in diabetic rats) remains to be clarified. Copyright (C) 1998 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.
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