Effect of the NAD(P)H oxidase inhibitor, apocynin, on peripheral nerve perfusion and function in diabetic rats

Life Sci. 2003 Aug 22;73(14):1813-24. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(03)00508-3.


Upregulation of vascular NAD(P)H oxidase has been considered an important source for elevated levels of reactive oxygen species that contribute to several cardiovascular disease states, including the vascular complications of diabetes mellitus. Previous studies have shown that treatment with antioxidants corrects impaired nerve function and blood flow in diabetic rats. The aim was to assess the degree of involvement of NAD(P)H oxidase in experimental diabetic neuropathy. To this end, after 6 weeks of untreated streptozotocin-diabetes, rats were treated for 2 weeks with the NAD(P)H oxidase, apocynin. Two high doses (15 and 100 mg/kg) were used to ensure that maximal effects were registered. Diabetes caused a 20% reduction in sciatic nerve motor conduction velocity, and a 14% deficit for sensory saphenous nerve. Apocynin treatment corrected these defects by 32% and 48%, respectively: there were no significant differences between the effects of the 2 doses. Sciatic nerve nutritive endoneurial perfusion was measured by hydrogen clearance microelectrode polarography. Blood flow and vascular conductance were 47% and 40% reduced by diabetes, respectively. Both doses of apocynin had similar effects, correcting the blood flow deficit by 31% and conductance by 47%. Thus, the data show that NAD(P)H oxidase contributes to the neurovascular deficits in diabetic rats. While only accounting for part of the elevated reactive oxygen species production in diabetes, this mechanism could provide a novel therapeutic candidate for further investigation in diabetic neuropathy and vasculopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetophenones / administration & dosage
  • Acetophenones / pharmacology*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / enzymology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Sciatic Nerve / blood supply
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology*


  • Acetophenones
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • acetovanillone
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases
  • NADPH Oxidases