Diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a diabetic complication, which results in myocardial dysfunction independent of other etiological factors. Abnormal intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) homeostasis has been implicated in DCM and may precede clinical manifestation. Studies in cardiomyocytes have shown that diabetes results in impaired [Ca2+]i homeostasis due to altered sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA) and sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX) activity. Importantly, altered calcium homeostasis may also be involved in diabetes-associated endothelial dysfunction, including impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation and a diminished capacity to generate nitric oxide (NO), elevated cell adhesion molecules, and decreased angiogenic growth factors. However, the effect of diabetes on Ca2+ regulatory mechanisms in cardiac endothelial cells (CECs) remains unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of diabetes on [Ca2+]i homeostasis in CECs in the rat model (streptozotocin-induced) of DCM. DCM-associated cardiac fibrosis was confirmed using picrosirius red staining of the myocardium. CECs isolated from the myocardium of diabetic and wild-type rats were loaded with Fura-2, and UTP-evoked [Ca2+]i transients were compared under various combinations of SERCA, sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (PMCA) and NCX inhibitors. Diabetes resulted in significant alterations in SERCA and NCX activities in CECs during [Ca2+]i sequestration and efflux, respectively, while no difference in PMCA activity between diabetic and wild-type cells was observed. These results improve our understanding of how diabetes affects calcium regulation in CECs, and may contribute to the development of new therapies for DCM treatment.
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