Share this article on:

Exercise Attenuates Diabetes-Induced Ultrastructural Changes in Rat Cardiac Tissue


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2004 - Volume 36 - Issue 11 - p 1863-1870
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000145461.38224.EC
Clinical Sciences: Clinically Relevant

Introduction/Purpose: Exercise is an effective nonpharmacological treatment in the prevention of mortality and morbidity due to cardiovascular disease in Type I diabetes. This study sought to explore the effects of endurance exercise on the ultrastructural changes seen in diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Methods: Seven-week-old rats were divided into three groups consisting of sedentary nondiabetic control, sedentary diabetic, and exercised diabetic animals. Diabetes was induced using streptozotocin injection, and the exercised animals were run daily on a treadmill for 9 wk. Changes in heart ultrastructure were analyzed using transmission electron microscopy.

Results: Ultrastructural changes in the left ventricle produced by diabetes included changes in myofibrillar arrangements, disrupted mitochondria, and increased cytoplasmic area with an increase in lipid amounts and an increase in individual collagen fiber cross-sectional surface area. Also, an increase in heterochromatin lining the nuclear envelope and an increase in invaginations of the nuclear membrane were observed in cardiomyocytes from diabetic rats when compared with the nuclei from nondiabetic cells. Exercise was found to significantly attenuate the diabetes-induced changes in collagen fibrils, cytoplasmic area, and level of mitochondrial disruption. In contrast, exercise did not appear to significantly influence myofibril volume density, lipid accumulation, or nuclear deformities.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that exercise restores specific ultrastructural characteristics of diabetic cardiomyopathy returning them toward nondiabetic phenotypes, particularly in the mitochondria and extracellular matrix proteins.

1Departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology, and 2Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

Address for correspondence: Lisa Stehno-Bittel, Ph.D., Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Kansas Medical Center, MS 2002, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS 66160; E-mail:

Submitted for publication August 2003.

Accepted for publication July 2004.

We are indebted to Rajprasad Loganathan for assistance with data analysis. The suggestions pertaining to morphometric analysis from Dr. Kuen-Shan Hung, as well as his critical reading of the manuscript, are greatly appreciated. We thank Dr. Nataliya Kibiryeva, Seok Hun Kim, and Mike Wolfe for their assistance with exercise training the rats.

This work was supported by an NIH RO1 GMS grant to LSB, and a Lied Endowed Basic Science Pilot Research Grant and an American Heart Association Scientist Development Award to IVS.

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine