Objectives: To assess the role of insulin or an angiotensin II receptor antagonist (losartan), or both, in preventing cardiomyocyte damage in rats suffering from insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), and to correlate it with insulin receptor modulation at the cardiomyocyte, coronary endothelium and skeletal muscle cell level. Design: Animals were divided into groups of normal rats, diabetic rats, and diabetic rats given insulin, each subdivided into a control group and an experimental group treated with losartan. Methods: The animals were killed 1 month after enrollment to the study. Perfusion of the heart with iodine-125-labelled insulin was carried out for all the groups and the binding kinetics of insulin to its receptors on the coronary endothelial cells and the cardiomyocytes were determined using a physical/mathematical model. In addition, tissue samples from the heart and intercostal skeletal muscle were snap frozen and used for histological, indirect immunofluorescence and western blot analysis. Results: Cardiac muscle from diabetic animals exhibited diffuse cardiomyopathic changes consisting of widespread vacuolation, loss of striation and cellular hypertrophy, which were reduced and even prevented by treatment with insulin and losartan. In addition, losartan seemed to mediate the upregulation of insulin receptor density on cardiomyocytes and skeletal muscle, and increase insulin receptor affinity at the coronary endothelial site. Finally, treatment with losartan induced a significant decrease in glucose concentrations in the diabetic group compared with the appropriate controls. Conclusions: Addition of losartan to the standard insulin treatment in non-hypertensive animals with IDDM offers new benefits concerning cardiac protection and prevention of damage. This may be attributed, in part, to insulin receptor density and sensitization.
- Angiotensin receptors
- Insulin receptors
- Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine