Oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) has been postulated to play an important role in atherogenesis. Because oxidant stress may be increased and antioxidant defenses reduced in diabetes, the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative modification and total peroxyl radical trapping potential (TRAP) of plasma were evaluated in subjects with poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). The lag phase of conjugated diene formation after initiation of LDL oxidation by the addition of copper was shorter in diabetic subjects than in normal control subjects (126 ± 11 vs. 165 ± 15 min [means ± SE], P < 0.05). This could not be attributed to the presence of oxidation-susceptible, small, dense LDL particles in the diabetic subjects, whose lipoprotein particle distribution did not differ from the control subjects. However, the total TRAP of plasma, a measure of antioxidant defense, was reduced (626 ± 34 vs. 877 ± 41 μM, P < 0.0001) in diabetes. Of the plasma antioxidants measured, only uric acid and vitamin A were decreased in diabetes (P < 0.01), and both levels correlated with TRAP (r = 0.75, P < 0.001; r = 0.54, P < 0.001, respectively). The correlation between uric acid levels and TRAP persisted when the diabetes and control groups were analyzed separately. The reduced TRAP of plasma and the increased susceptibility of LDL to oxidative modification observed is consistent with a role for lipoprotein oxidation in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in IDDM.

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