Abnormalities in axonal transport of proteins are thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy. Gangliosides exert a positive action on numerous alterations in biochemistry and physiology of diabetic nerves. This study was undertaken to assess the effects of exogenous gangliosides on the axonal transport of structural proteins such as actin and tubulin in the sensory fibers of short-term (9-wk) and long-term (6-mo) diabetic rats. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats were made diabetic with a single injection of 70 mg/kg streptozocin i.p. Subgroups were injected daily with either highly purified ganglioside mixture (10 mg/kg i.p.) or saline for 1 mo, beginning either 2 or 17 wk after streptozocin injection. Age-matched rats were used as controls. Axonal transport was studied by the pulse-labeling technique. Three weeks after labeling, sciatic nerves were dissected out and processed for sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and fluorography. In diabetic rats of both experimental designs, the transport rate of tubulin and actin was decreased by ∼ 30% compared with control rats. Ganglioside treatment counteracted such alterations in both 9-wk and 6-mo diabetic rats. These data suggest a pharmacological effect that could be correlated with molecular interactions between integral membrane glycolipids and cytoskeletal elements.

This content is only available via PDF.