We have examined the effect of diabetes on sodium/myo-inositol cotransporter (SMIT) mRNA levels and myo-inositol content in the kidney to test the hypothesis that diabetes-induced changes in renal myo-inositol levels are due to the regulation of SMIT mRNA levels. In streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats, after 3, 7 and 28 days of diabetes, SMIT mRNA levels in the whole kidney were increased three- to fivefold, and remained increased by about twofold after six months of diabetes. Insulin treatment of diabetic rats normalized blood glucose levels and prevented the increase in SMIT mRNA levels. Treating diabetic rats with sorbinil, an aldose reductase inhibitor, corrected the abnormal accumulation of sorbitol but had no effect on the diabetes-induced increase in renal normal rats showed a relative abundance in cortex, outer medulla, and inner medulla of 1.0:3.4:7.0. After seven days of diabetes, the levels of SMIT mRNA and myo-inositol content wee significantly increased only in the outer medulla. In situ hybridization studies revealed that SMIT mRNA in the outer medulla was predominately localized to the medullary thick ascending limbs of Henle's loop and was not localized to any specific cell in the inner medulla. This distribution pattern was unchanged in diabetic rats. These studies show that diabetes causes an increase in renal SMIT mRNA, which is primarily localized to the outer medulla. Accumulation of myo-inositol by the thick ascending limb of Henle's loop may account for most of the increase caused by diabetes.
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