Increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in zucker diabetic rat liver and brain

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2015;35(3):1241-51. doi: 10.1159/000373947. Epub 2015 Feb 11.


Background/aims: The Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF, FA/FA) rat is a genetic model of type 2 diabetes, characterized by insulin resistance with progressive metabolic syndrome. We have previously demonstrated mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in the heart, kidneys and pancreas of ZDF rats. However, the precise molecular mechanism of disease progression is not clear. Our aim in the present study was to investigate oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in the liver and brain of ZDF rats.

Methods: In this study, we have measured mitochondrial oxidative stress, bioenergetics and redox homeostasis in the liver and brain of ZDF rats.

Results: Our results showed increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the ZDF rat brain compared to the liver, while nitric oxide (NO) production was markedly increased both in the brain and liver. High levels of lipid and protein peroxidation were also observed in these tissues. Glutathione metabolism and mitochondrial respiratory functions were adversely affected in ZDF rats when compared to Zucker lean (ZL, +/FA) control rats. Reduced ATP synthesis was also observed in the liver and brain of ZDF rats. Western blot analysis confirmed altered expression of cytochrome P450 2E1, iNOS, p-JNK, and IκB-α confirming an increase in oxidative and metabolic stress in ZDF rat tissues.

Conclusions: Our data shows that, like other tissues, ZDF rat liver and brain develop complications associated with redox homeostasis and mitochondrial dysfunction. These results, thus, might have implications in understanding the etiology and pathophysiology of diabesity which in turn, would help in managing the disease associated complications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • I-kappa B Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • NF-KappaB Inhibitor alpha
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • I-kappa B Proteins
  • Nfkbia protein, rat
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NF-KappaB Inhibitor alpha
  • Nitric Oxide