To evaluate the role of hyperglycemia in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy, the kidneys from dogs experimentally galactosemic for 5 yr have been compared with the kidneys from age-matched normal dogs and dogs with alloxan-induced diabetes for 5 yr. The width of glomerular capillary basement membrane and the quantity of plasma protein immunohistochemically demonstrable in the basement membrane were supranormal in the galactosemics, as they were in the diabetics.In contrast, kidney weight, mesangial volume, and the prevalence of obliterated glomeruli, glomerular exudates, and mesangial nodules in the galactosemic animals were comparable to those of normal animals and clearly were less than observed in the insulin-deficient diabetic animals. These galactosemic dogs are known to have developed a retinopathy morphologically indistinguishable from that of diabetic patients and dogs. Thus, galactosemia sufficient to produce diabetic-like lesions in the glomerular basement membrane and retina was found to be nevertheless insufficient to elicit several renal abnormalities that are typical of diabetes. The polyol concentration in erythrocytes was greater than normal in the galactosemics and the diabetics and was greatest in the galactosemics. The absence of mesangial expansion, glomerular obliteration, and nephromegaly in galactose-fed dogs raises the possibility that these abnormalities in diabetes are not a result of excessive polyol pathway activity.

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