To explore metabolic changes associated with the sorbitol accumulation and myo-inositol depletion observed in glomeruli of rats with experimental diabetes, we examined total and ouabain-inhibited adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) activity in glomeruli isolated from control and streptozocin (STZ)-diabetic rats. Glomerular Na/K-ATPase activity (ouabain-inhibited) was significantly reduced in diabetic animals, while total (composite) ATPase activity remained unchanged. Treatment with insulin partially restored the Na/K-ATPase activity. Administration of the aldose reductase inhibitor, sorbinil, which normalizes glomerular contents of both sorbitol and myo-inositol in diabetes, completely prevented the diminution of Na/K-ATPase activity. These results establish that glomerular Na/K-ATPase activity is reduced in acute experimental diabetes. The ability of sorbinil to prevent this decrease suggests that it is related to polyol accumulation and/or myo-inositol depletion, although an effect of the drug unrelated to its aldose reductase inhibiting property has not been excluded. Since increased polyol pathway flux, decreased myo-inositol, and reduced Na/K-ATPase activity have also been described in peripheral nerve, another tissue in which typical diabetic complications characteristically occur,the consequences of these metabolic changes may be implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy.

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