The polyol pathway is present in tissues of several organs where its activation may participate in the development of diabetic complications. We measured the accumulation of polyol-pathway intermediates in HPT cells isolated from 21 different human kidneys from nondiabetic individuals. When exposed to 27.5 mM glucose in the growth media, cells isolated from ∼75% of individuals (accumulators) accumulated sorbitol within 1–4 days, whereas 25% (nonaccumulators) accumulated only negligible amounts, even when the period of exposure was extended to 2 wk. Surprisingly, measurement of the activities of the polyol-pathway enzymes showed no difference in the levels of either AR or SDH between accumulators and nonaccumulators, even when the conversion of galactose to galactitol was used to measure AR activity in intact cells independently of SDH. Measurement of sorbitol in the growth media indicated that nonaccumulators were not releasing sorbitol into the growth media. Fructose levels in the conditioned growth media were 4 times higher in the sorbitol-accumulating cells. Together, these results indicate that the tendency of cells from an individual to accumulate significant amounts of sorbitol may reflect the cells' ability to metabolize sorbitol in steps subsequent to the polyol pathway.

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