Background. Renal insufficiency develops in diabetes and shows structural and functional abnormalities. Renal afferents, including chemoreceptors and mechanoreceptors located in the vascular and ureteropelvic portions of the kidney, may reflect changes in the environment and trigger an afferent nerve-mediated regulatory function that is known as the renorenal reflex. In this study, the involvement of these renal sensory receptors during the early diabetic state is defined. Methods. Diabetes was induced in rats after a tail vein injection of streptozotocin (STZ; 60 mg/kg intravenously). Four groups of rats, control (C), diabetic (DM), diabetic with acute insulin treatment (DMAI, 9 U/rat, subcutaneously, on the experimental day), and chronic insulin treatment (DMCI, 9 U/rat, subcutaneously, daily) were studied. Spontaneous firing type 2-renal chemoreceptor (CR2), arterial mechanoreceptor (MRa), ureteropelvic mechanoreceptor (MRu), and venous mechanoreceptor (MRv) were identified by single-unit analysis of renal afferent nervous activity. The receptor activities were confirmed by their response patterns to stimuli elicited by renal arterial occlusion (RAO), backflow of urine, increasing arterial pressure, increasing ureteropelvic pressure (UP), or renal venous occlusion (RVO). The response of these afferent receptors to a challenge of volume expansion and their functional activities on renorenal reflexes were also examined. Immunostaining with PGP 9.5 was applied for examination of the nerve distribution in the diabetic kidney. The tissue level of histamine in the renal pelvis was determined. We explored the effect of histamine on renal receptor activity in these animals to address the possible role of histamine in MRu receptor activity. Results. In early diabetics, signaling activities in MRa and MRv were maintained; however, activity in CR2 and MRu was depressed. For CR2, the reduced basal discharge and the repressed responses to RAO, backflow of urine, and volume expansion found in DM rats were recovered by acute insulin treatment to restore glucose levels to near normal. For MRu, the depressed response to increasing UP and volume expansion was not restored by acute correction of hyperglycemia in DMAI rats. However, antihistamine treatment or chronic insulin treatment recovered the MRu response to mechanical stimuli in DM rats. Because of the desensitized CR2 and MRu activity, renorenal reflexes elicited by backflow of urine and increasing UP were depressed in DM rats. Conclusion. Despite a lack of structural changes, the operating system, signaling ability, and renorenal reflex regulatory function of two renal afferent nerve receptors, CR2 and MRu, are altered in the early diabetic state.
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