This study measured sugars and polyols, weight/unit length, and slow component-a of axonal transport (SCa) in dorsal root afferents of the sciatic nerves of control rats and rats with streptozocin (STZ)-induced diabetes of 4-wk duration. The effects of two treatments—aldose reductase inhibition ‘Statil (“Static” is a trademark; the property of Imperial Chemical Industries PLC.) ICI 128436 at 25 mg/kg/day, p.o.’ and myo-inositol supplementation (650 mg/kg/day, p.o.)—were studied in control and diabetic groups. Inclusion of untreated controls and diabetics gave a total of six groups for the study. The treatments were begun on the day after injection of STZ and were maintained throughout the protocol.

The sciatic nerves of the diabetic (untreated) rats showed accumulation of sorbitol and fructose, depletion of myo-inositol, and an 8% increase in weight/unit length. All of these abnormalities were prevented by treatment with Statil. Treatment of diabetic rats with myo-inositol prevented its depletion in the sciatic nerve, but did not affect the accumulation of sorbitol and fructose nor the increase in weight/unit length. Neither treatment exerted any apparent effect on body weight, blood glucose, nerve weight, or nerve sugars and polyols in the control rats.

The diabetic rats showed a retardation of the wave of transported-labeled protein (shown as increased leftward skewness of the wave) and a reduction in mean transport velocity (calculated as the mean velocity for all segments contributing to the transport wave: 0.96 ± 0.09 mm/day in diabetics versus 1.15 ± 0.07mm/day in controls). These abnormalities were not affected significantly in the diabetic groups by treatment with either Statil or with myo-inositol.

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