Retrograde axonal transport of transmitter enzymes, fucose-labeled protein, and nerve growth factor in streptozotocin-diabetic rats

J. Jakobsen, S. Brimijoin, K. Skau, P. Sidenius, D. Wells

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143 Scopus citations


Rapid axonal transport was studied by several methods in rats with serum glucose levels above 300 mg/dl as a result of treatment with streptozotocin (45-50 mg/kg) 3 days, 1 wk, 4 wk, 8 wk, or 4 mo earlier. With untreated age-matched rats as controls, rapid anterograde axonal transport in the sciatic nerves of diabetic rats appeared entirely normal. Statistically significant differences were never observed between experimental and control nerves in the basal content of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DBH) activity or in the rate of accumulation of these enzymes proximal or distal to a ligature. Therefore, the basic capacity for rapid anterograde and retrograde axonal transport of proteins was probably unimpaired in the diabetic nerves. The accumulation of labeled glycoproteins proximal to ligatures on the contralateral nerves of the same rats after injection of the L5 dorsal root ganglion with 3H-fucose was likewise normal. However, rats with 1, 4, and 8 wk of diabetes did show reduced accumulation of fucose-labeled protein distal to nerve ligations, indicating a long-lasting abnormality of retrograde axonal transport. Furthermore, this abnormality was reversed by daily insulin treatment during the second half of an 8-wk experimental period. It is therefore unlikely that the depression of retrograde transport reflects direct toxic effects of streptozotocin. We conclude that streptozotocin-induced diabetes leads to: (1) abnormal delay in the turnaround of transported proteins in distal nerve regions, perhaps combined with (2) an abnormal metabolism of glycoproteins. A delayed onset of retrograde transport is consistent with present observations of reduced accumulation of 125I-labeled nerve growth factor (NGF) below a midthigh ligature on the sciatic nerve after injection of this protein into the hindfoot of rats with 3-5 wk of diabetes. Further work on the factors controlling rapid retrograde transport of proteins in diabetic nerve is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-803
Number of pages7
JournalUnknown Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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