Diabetes mellitus is the most common serious metabolic disorder and it is considered to be one of the five leading causes of death in the world. Hyperglycemia-mediated oxidative stress plays a crucial role in diabetic complications. Hence, this study was undertaken to evaluate the protective effect of esculetin on the plasma glucose, insulin levels, tissue antioxidant defense system and lipid peroxidative status in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Diabetic rats exhibited increased blood glucose with significant decrease in plasma insulin levels. Extent of oxidative stress was assessed by the elevation in the levels of lipid peroxidation markers such as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), lipid hydroperoxides (HP) and conjugated dienes (CD); reduction in the enzymic antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione-S-transferase (GST); nonenzymic antioxidants Vitamin C, E and reduced glutathione (GSH) were observed in the liver and kidney tissues of diabetic control rats as compared to control rats. Oral supplementation of esculetin to diabetic rats for 45 days significantly brought back lipid peroxidation markers, enzymic and nonenzymic antioxidants to near normalcy. Moreover, the histological observations evidenced that esculetin effectively rescues the hepatocytes and kidney from hyperglycemia mediated oxidative damage without affecting its cellular function and structural integrity. These findings suggest that esculetin (40 mg/kg BW) treatment exerts a protective effect in diabetes by attenuating hyperglycemia-mediated oxidative stress and antioxidant competence in hepatic and renal tissues. Further, detailed studies are in progress to elucidate the molecular mechanism by which esculetin elicits its modulatory effects in insulin signaling pathway.
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