Decreased skin blood flow early in the course of streptozotocin-induced diabetes mellitus in the rat

M. S. Rendell, S. T. Kelly, D. Finney, T. Luu, K. Kahler, S. F. McIntyre, J. V. Terando

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24 Scopus citations


We have previously used laser Doppler technology to demonstrate that skin blood flow is reduced in Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetic patients. The possibility of using the skin as an extremely accessible indicator of diabetic microvascular disease is attractive. The streptozotocin diabetic rat is an appealing potential animal model. We performed measurements of skin blood flow in two rat species, nine Sprague Dawley (SD) rats and nine Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats, observing early changes following the inception of diabetes. Four of the SD rats and five of the WKY rats were made diabetic, the rest serving as controls. There were no significant differences in skin blood flow between the two rat strains. As in man, there appear to be rat skin sites with primarily nutritive capillary supply and those with arteriovenous anastomotic predominance. The back and base of tail, both hair-covered areas, demonstrated low flow characteristics, consistent with nutritive perfusion. In contrast, the plantar surface of the paw behaved similarly to the finger or toe pulps in man, sites of arteriovenous perfusion, with high basal flow and a marked increment with thermal stimulation. In diabetic rats of both species, there was significantly lower flow at the back and base of tail than in non-diabetic animals. The differences were of the order of 30–40 %. As a function of time, the decrease in blood flow at the base of tail parallelled the increase in glycohaemoglobin levels in the diabetic rats. In contrast, blood flow at the plantar surface of the paw was unchanged throughout the 3-month post-streptozotocin observation period. The decreases seen in blood flow were primarily due to decreases in the velocity rather than the volume component of flow. We conclude that there is an early phase of skin blood flow reduction in the diabetic rat. The reduction in skin blood flow is found at nutritively perfused skin sites but not at areas with arteriovenous anastomotic predominance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-911
Number of pages5
JournalDiabetologia: Clinical and Experimental Diabetes and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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