Patients with long-standing diabetes often demonstrate intestinal dysfunction, characterized as constipation or colonic hypersensitivity. Our previous studies have demonstrated the roles of voltage-gated sodium channels NaV1.7 and NaV1.8 in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) in colonic hypersensitivity of rats with diabetes. This study was designed to determine roles of antioxidant α-lipoic acid (ALA) on sodium channel activities and colonic hypersensitivity of rats with diabetes.
Streptozotocin was used to induce diabetes in adult female rats. Colonic sensitivity was measured by behavioral responses to colorectal distention in rats. The excitability and sodium channel currents of colon projection DRG neurons labeled with DiI were measured by whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. The expressions of NaV1.7 and NaV1.8 of colon DRGs were measured by western blot analysis.
ALA treatment significantly increased distention threshold in responding to colorectal distension in diabetic rats compared with normal saline treatment. ALA treatment also hyper-polarized the resting membrane potentials, depolarized action potential threshold, increased rheobase, and decreased frequency of action potentials evoked by ramp current stimulation. Furthermore, ALA treatment also reduced neuronal sodium current densities of DRG neurons innervating the colon from rats with diabetes. In addition, ALA treatment significantly downregulated NaV1.7 and NaV1.8 expression in colon DRGs from rats with diabetes.