Background: The cellular effects of hyperglycemia are mediated by protein kinase C (PKC). However, PKC consists of several distinct isoforms, and their contribution to the pathogenesis of diabetic complications in different organs is not clear. We investigated the expression and translocation of PKC isoforms alpha, betaI, betaII, delta, epsilon, and zeta in kidney, heart, and aorta from diabetic rats.
Methods: Hyperglycemia was induced with streptozotocin (70 mg/kg) in the rat. After four weeks, PKC isoform expression was assessed by Western blot after tissue fractionation and by immunohistochemistry.
Results: Streptozotocin increased blood glucose from 117.0 +/- 3.6 to 510.0 +/- 19.4 mg/dl (N = 8, P < 0.01) and induced albuminuria. PKC isoforms alpha, beta, delta, epsilon, and zeta were all detected in control animals. Western blot showed increased PKC alpha expression in kidney and heart (160% and 170%, respectively). PKC betaI, betaII, and delta expression was not influenced by hyperglycemia. PKC zeta was decreased in diabetic animals in both tissues by 60%. The membrane association of PKC alpha and PKC epsilon was increased; however, the relative amount of PKC in the particulate fraction was not influenced by hyperglycemia. Immunohistochemistry revealed a marked increase in PKC alpha immunoreactivity in renal glomeruli and interstitial capillaries, cardiac capillaries, and skeletal muscle, as well as in the endothelial cells of larger arteries. PKC beta showed a small decrease in the glomeruli. PKC epsilon was increased in renal tubules in diabetic rats but was decreased in the myocardium. PKC zeta was expressed in both myocardial and glomerular cells but was decreased during hyperglycemia. Our results demonstrate that PKC isoforms are differentially regulated in kidney and heart in diabetes. High glucose increases PKC alpha expression, whereas PKC zeta is down-regulated. The finding that PKC alpha is mostly increased in endothelial cells supports a role for PKC alpha in functional endothelial disturbances observed in diabetes.