myo-Inositol depletion as a result of hyperglycemia is considered one of the leading contributors to chronic diabetic complications. We investigated the possible mechanisms through which elevated extracellular glucose levels affect the loss of intracellular myo-inositol in rat lens. Short-term incubation (up to 4 h) in solutions with elevated glucose concentrations revealed a concentration-dependent inhibition of myo-inositol influx. This inhibition was caused by both an increase of the transport coefficient and a decrease of maximal flux and thus was a mixed competitive and noncompetitive inhibition. If polyol accumulation was prevented with sorbinil, an aldose reductase inhibitor, the inhibition of myo-inositol influx was partially reduced. The remaining inhibition was the result of an increased transport coefficient without a change in maximal flux and therefore represents a strictly competitive inhibition. A similar competitive inhibition was observed with the nonmetabolizable glucose analogue L-glucose, which cannot be converted to polyol. Longer exposure (16 h) to solutions with high glucose concentrations resulted in an inhibition that correlated with high lens polyol levels. This inhibition persisted after the lenses were returned to solutions with normal glucose concentrations and was the result of a decrease of maximal flux without a significant change in transport coefficient, a strictly noncompetitive inhibition. The noncompetitive inhibition associated with polyol accumulation and the competitive inhibition due to extracellular glucose were additive. Lens myo-inositol depletion after exposure to elevated glucose concentrations thus resulted from a competitive inhibition caused by the interaction of extracellular glucose with the myo-inositol carrier and a noncompetitive inhibition associated with polyol accumulation.

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