The effects of elevated glucose concentrations on the metabolism of the aortic wall were examined in a preparation of tubular segments of rabbit descending thoracic aorta comprised of intima and media only. Increased medium glucose concentrations (20-50 mm) resulted in increased aortic sorbitol and fructose concentrations and an increased rate of fructose release into the medium. This increased flux through the polyol pathway can be explained as a consequence both of an increased free intracellular glucose concentration and of the kinetic characteristics of the alditol: NADP oxidoreductase and the l-iditol: NAD oxidoreductase isolated and partially purified from rabbit thoracic aorta. Incubation with elevated glucose concentrations for 2 or more hr was also associated with a significant increase in the water content of the tissue without a significant increase in the inulin space. The oxygen uptake of the tissues incubated with elevated glucose concentrations was significantly reduced; this appears to result from a limitation imposed by oxygen diffusion at physiological oxygen tensions. A compensatory increase in glycolysis and an increase in the aortic lactate/pyruvate concentration ratio were also observed. The oxygen uptake and lactate production of tissue incubated with 50 mm glucose could be preserved at rates observed in tissue incubated with a physiological glucose concentration by the addition of 40 mm mannitol to the medium. Aortic intima and media from alloxan-diabetic rabbits also exhibit an increased water content and a decreased rate of oxygen uptake. These observations suggest that elevated ambient glucose concentrations result in significant alterations in the metabolism of aortic intima and media.
Anthony D. Morrison, Rex S. Clements Jr., Albert I. Winegrad