Aim: Non-insulin-dependent diabetic mellitus model rats, Otsuka-Long-Evans-Tokushima-Fatty (OLETF), develop diabetic nephropathy presenting with mesangial expansion leading to glomerular sclerosis and thickening of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), especially in elderly males. The effects of sex hormones and castration on the incidence of diabetes mellitus (DM) have been studied in this strain rat. However, there have been no detailed studies on the effects of castration and sex hormone in the development of diabetic nephropathy.
Methods: In this study we examine the effect of castration or estrogen on the development of glomerular injury in OLETF rats. Thirty male OLETF rats and 10 male long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO) rats as a normal control were used. OLETF rats were divided into three groups: group 1 received sham-operation, group 2 was castrated at 6 weeks, and group 3 was administered 0.1 mg estrogen subcutaneously once a month from 6 weeks to 58 weeks of age and LETO rats were assigned to group 4. Body weight, urinary protein and fasting blood glucose, serum albumin and other serum constituents were investigated every 12 weeks from 12 weeks to 60 weeks of age. In groups 1-3, glucose tolerance test was performed at 38 weeks. Each group was studied morphologically at the end of the experiment (60 weeks of age).
Results: Castration attenuated proteinuria and glomerular sclerosis accompanied by an amelioration of glucose tolerance, a decrease in mesangial expansion and an attenuation of the GBM thickening. In contrast, although estrogen equally ameliorated glucose tolerance and attenuated the mesangial expansion and the GBM thickening, estrogen failed to attenuate proteinuria and glomerulosclerosis. A significant increase in glomerular tuft volume, and serum levels of growth hormone, total cholesterol and triglycerides was observed in the estrogen-treated rats as compared with the castrated rats.
Conclusion: Besides the mechanisms involved in the development of diabetic nephropathy, other mechanisms may be involved and contribute to the development of glomerulosclerosis in the estrogen-treated rats, leading to a difference in glomerular injury between the castrated and estrogen-treated OLETF rats.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel