The concentrations of acetylcholine (ACh) as a parasympathetic marker and norepinephrine (NE) as a sympathetic marker were investigated in the hearts of rats 2, 4, and 8 wk after the inductionof diabetes by an injection of streptozocin (STZ; 65 mg/kg i.v.). ACh and NE were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. Diabetic rats showed low body weight and heart weight at 2, 4, and 8 wk and higher heart-to-body weight ratio and bradycardiaat 8 wk, almost all of which were normalized after insulin treatment. Myocardial ACh and NE concentrations in the diabetic rats at 2 and 4 wk were not significantly different from those in age-matched control rats. However, ACh and NE concentrations in the diabetic rats at 8 wk significantly increased compared with the control rats. Diabetic rats at 8 wk also had increased myocardial choline concentration and choline acetyltransferase activity and decreased acetylcholinesterase activity. Insulin treatment normalized all of these changes in the diabetic rats. Thus, in STZ-induced diabetes (STZ-D), the concentrations of both cholinergic and noradrenergic neurotransmitters in the myocardium increased. The results of this study confirm a previously reported increase in sympathetic activity to the heart and also indicate that there is an increase in the synthesis and a decrease in the metabolism of ACh in STZ-D and that adequate insulin treatment normalizes these changes.

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