Gene regulation in the cardiovascular tissues of diabetic subjects has been reported to be altered. To examine abnormal activities in transcription factors as a possible cause of this altered gene regulation, we studied the activity of two redox-sensitive transcription factors— nuclear factor-KB (NF-KB) and activating protein-1 (AP-1)—and the change in the mRNA content of heme oxygenase-1, which is regulated by these transcription factors in the cardiac tissues of rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. Increased activity of NF-KB and AP-1 but not nuclear transcription-activating factor, as determined by an electrophoretic mobility shift assay, was found in the hearts of 4-week diabetic rats. Glycemic control by a subcutaneous injection of insulin prevented these diabetes-induced changes in transcription factor activity. In accordance with these changes, the mRNA content of heme oxygenase-1 was increased fourfold in 4-week diabetic rats and threefold in 24-week diabetic rats as compared with control rats (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). Insulin treatment also consistently prevented changes in the mRNA content of heme oxygenase-1. The oral administration of an antioxidant, probucol, to these diabetic rats partially prevented the elevation of the activity of both NFKB and AP-1, and normalized the mRNA content of heme oxygenase-1 without producing any change in the plasma glucose concentration. These results suggest that elevated oxidative stress is involved in the activation of the transcription factors NF-KB and AP-1 in the cardiac tissues of diabetic rats, and that these abnormal activities of transcription factors could be associated with the altered gene regulation observed in the cardiovascular tissues of diabetic rats.

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