A fraction from normal human plasma inhibiting Na+ -K+ ATPase has been recently identified as lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC). The aim of this study was to investigate the existence of a relationship between the activity of the cellular membrane Na+ -K -ATPase and plasma LPC in human diabetes. We studied 10 patients with insulin-dependent-diabetes mellitus (IDDM), 14 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), and 10 sex- and age-matched control subjects. Plasma LPC concentrations were increased in both IDDM and NIDDM patients compared with control subjects. Na+ -K+ -ATPase activity was reduced in both groups of patients in erythrocyte and platelet membranes. There was a significant correlation between the concentrations of plasma LPC and Na+ -K+ -ATPase activity in both erythrocyte and platelet membranes (P < 0.01). To investigate the effect of LPC on the enzyme, Na+ -K+ -ATPase activity was determined in erythrocyte membranes obtained from six healthy subjects after in vitro incubation with increasing concentrations of LPC (1–10 microM). Enzymatic activity was significantly reduced by in vitro LPC at a concentration of 2.5 microM, with a further decrease at 5 microM. These data suggest that the decrease in Na+ -K+ -ATPase activity in diabetes might be due to increased LPC concentrations.

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