The effects of diabetes on collagen cross-link formation and solubility were investigated in granulation tissue collagen induced by polyester fabric implanted subcutaneously in rats at the same time diabetes was produced by injection of streptozotocin. Thus, all the collagen analyzed was formed in a diabetic milieu. Ten days later the implants were removed and the total collagen content as well as the fraction soluble in 0.5 M acetic acid was determined. Predominantly type I collagen accumulated in the implants. Total collagen content was the same in diabetics and controls; however, the acid-soluble fraction in diabetic animals was only half that of controls (8.5% and 17.7%, respectively), and the ratio of β chains to a chains in the acid-soluble fraction was higher in diabetics (0.89) than in controls (0.69). In animals treated with β-aminopropionitrile or D-penicillamine the acid-soluble fraction of collagen from diabetics equaled that from controls. These observations indicate that both intramolecular and intermolecular cross-links are increased in type I collagen from diabetic animals. Since these cross-links interfere with degradation of collagen by collagenase, they may contribute to accelerated intimal sclerosis of arteries and to capillary basement membrane thickening in diabetes.

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