To test whether diabetes associated alterations in copper metabolism contribute to diabetes-induced teratogenicity in rats, pregnancy outcome was compared between diabetic and nondiabetic rats fed either a copper adequate (12 μg/g diet) or low copper diet (1 μg/g diet). The dietary regimen was begun two weeks prior to mating and continued throughout pregnancy. To facilitate the reduction of maternal copper stores in the low copper groups, the low copper diet was supplemented with a copper chelator, triethylenetetraamine, at 1% for one week; the chelator was removed from the diet one week prior to mating. Pregnancy was terminated on gestation day 20. Maternal and fetal tissues were assessed for copper concentrations, the activities of the cuproenzymes copper, zinc superoxide dismutase and ceruloplasmin, and the copper binding protein metallothionein. Dams fed the low copper diet had low tissue copper concentrations, and low plasma ceruloplasmin and erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activities compared to copper-adequate dams. Fetuses in the low copper groups were characterized by low liver copper concentrations. Gross structural and skeletal anomalies were only observed in the diabetic groups; maternal copper intake did not influence the frequency of these anomalies. However, fetuses in the low-copper nondiabetic group, and both diabetic groups, were characterized by low liver copper, zinc superoxide dismutase activity suggesting that fetal copper metabolism was influenced by both copper intake and diabetes.
- superoxide dismutase
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