It has been suggested that the occurrence of an intracellular Ca2+ overload may result in the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy, which is associated with depletion of high-energy phosphate stores and a derangement of ultrastructure and cardiac dysfunction. Accordingly, the effects of verapamil, a Ca2+ antagonist, on cardiac function, ultrastructure, and high-energy phosphate stores in the myocardium were evaluated in rats made diabetic by an intravenous injection of streptozocin (65 mg/kg). Four weeks after the induction of diabetes, the animals were treated with three doses (2, 4, or 8 mg kg−1 day−1) of verapamil for 4 wk until they were used for the measurement of different parameters. Untreated diabetic animals had slower heart rates, depressed rate of contraction and rate of relaxation, lower peak left ventricular systolic pressure, and elevated left ventricular diastolic pressure. All of these changes were significantly improved in diabetic rats receiving verapamil treatment. The beneficial effects of verapamil were more evident with higher doses (8 mg · kg−1 · day−1) than with the lower doses (2 mg · kg−1 · day−1). The diabetic animals also showed alterations in myocardial high-energy phosphate stores and exhibited evidence of ultrastructural damage; these abnormalities were improved by verapamil treatment without affecting their hyperglycemic status. Our results demonstrate that verapamil is capable of preventing diabetes-induced myocardial changes and support the involvement of Ca2+ in the cardiac pathology during diabetes.

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