The effect of 6 weeks' streptozotocin (STZ)-induced (70 mg/kg) diabetes and aminoguanidine (AG) treatment (50 mg/kg s.c. or 250-750 mg/l given in drinking water) on arteriolar reactivity to vasoactive substances was investigated in conscious rats. Studies were performed in untreated control rats (n = 13), STZ-induced diabetic rats (n = 11), AG-treated control rats (n = 12), and AG-treated diabetic rats (n = 12). Rats were provided with a dorsal microcirculatory chamber that allowed intravital microscopy of striated muscle arterioles of varying diameter (A1, large; A2, intermediate; and A3, small arterioles) in conscious animals. The mean arterial pressure (MAP) and arteriolar diameter responses to intravenous infusion of the following drugs were examined: the endothelium-dependent vasodilator acetylcholine (ACh; 3, 10, and 30 microg x kg(-1) x min(-1)), the potassium-channel opener levcromakalim (LC; 30 microg/kg), and the vasoconstrictor agents ANG II (0.1 and 0.3 microg x kg(-1) x min(-1)) and norepinephrine (NE; 0.2, 0.6, and 2.0 microg x kg(-1) x min(-1)). Baseline MAP was lower in both diabetic groups versus the nondiabetic groups (P < 0.05). AG treatment had no influence on baseline MAP. The absolute change in MAP after drug infusion tended to be lower in the diabetic rats than in their nondiabetic littermates. Arteriolar vasodilatory responses to ACh and LC were attenuated in the diabetic animals (1 +/- 7 vs. 19 +/- 7% [P < 0.05] and 7 +/- 3 vs. 34 +/- 8% [P < 0.01] in A2, respectively). AG treatment of diabetic animals did not prevent the development of this disturbance. Vasoconstrictor responses were not influenced by the diabetic state. In the intermediate arterioles of AG-treated control rats, a hyperresponse was observed after ANG II infusion (-10 +/- 2 vs. -2 +/- 2%; P < 0.05) and a hyporesponse was observed after ACh and LC infusion (2 +/- 3 and 15 +/- 6%, respectively; P < 0.05 vs. untreated control rats). These data indicate that 6 weeks of experimental diabetes is associated with a decreased endothelium-dependent and -independent vasodilatation. AG treatment had no beneficial effect on this disturbance.

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