We investigated whether endothelial function may be impaired in the Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rat, a model of spontaneous NIDDM. The effect of exercise training and food restriction on endothelial function was also studied. OLETF rats were divided into three groups at age 16 weeks: sedentary, exercise trained, and food restricted (70% of the food intake of sedentary rats). Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima rats were used as the age-matched nondiabetic controls. Endothelium-dependent relaxation of the thoracic aorta induced by histamine was significantly attenuated in the sedentary or food-restricted rats, and exercise training improved endothelial function. Relaxation induced by sodium nitroprusside, a donor of nitric oxide, did not differ significantly among groups. Both exercise training and food restriction significantly suppressed plasma levels of glucose and insulin and serum levels of triacylglycerol and cholesterol and reduced the accumulation of abdominal fat. Insulin sensitivity, as measured by the hyperinsulinemic- euglycemic clamp technique, was significantly decreased in sedentary rats but was enhanced in exercise- trained and food-restricted rats. The urinary excretion of nitrite was significantly decreased in sedentary and food-restricted rats compared with nondiabetic rats and was significantly increased in exercise-trained rats. These results indicate that exercise training, but not food restriction, prevents endothelial dysfunction in NIDDM rats, presumably due to the exercise-induced increase in the production of nitric oxide.

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