Significantly higher levels of erythrocyte membrane microviscosity (MV) [η̅: 5.22 ± 0.17 (4.70–5.92), mean ± SD (range), poise, N = 67, P < 0.005] measured by fluorescence depolarization using 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene as a fluorescent probe were found in diabetic patients when compared with normal controls [5.05 ± 0.15 (4.70–5.29), N = 22]. No significant differences in MV existed between males and females, nor was MV significantly correlated with diabetic age, duration of diabetes, plasma cholesterol, cholesterol/phospholipid ratios, and plasma lecithin :cholesterol acyltransferase activities. No significant difference in MV was observed between groups with or without diabetic retinopathy. There was, however, significantly higher MV [5.29 ± 0.19 (5.00–5.92), N = 20, P < 0.05] in the group with fasting blood glucose (FBG) > 140 mg/dl than that [5.19 ± 0.15 (4.70–5.46), N = 47] in the group with FBG < 140 mg/dl. The changes in erythrocyte membrane MV presented in this study appear to be related to the current metabolic control of diabetic patients and are considered to be one of the factors responsible for the reduced erythrocyte deformability in diabetes.

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