Circulating biomarkers of nitric oxide bioactivity and impaired muscle vasoreactivity to exercise in adults with uncomplicated type 1 diabetes


Aims/hypothesis: Early compromised endothelial function challenges the ability of individuals with type 1 diabetes to perform normal physical exercise. The exact mechanisms underlying this vascular limitation remain unknown, but may involve either formation or metabolism of nitric oxide (NO), a major vasodilator, whose activity is known to be compromised by oxidative stress. Methods: Muscle microvascular reactivity (near-infrared spectroscopy) to an incremental exhaustive bout of exercise was assessed in 22 adults with uncomplicated type 1 diabetes (HbA1c 64.5 ± 15.7 mmol/mol; 8.0 ± 1.4%) and in 21 healthy individuals (18–40 years of age). NO-related substrates/metabolites were also measured in the blood along with other vasoactive compounds and oxidative stress markers; measurements were taken at rest, at peak exercise and after 15 min of recovery. Demographic characteristics, body composition, smoking status and diet were comparable in both groups. Results: Maximal oxygen uptake was impaired in individuals with type 1 diabetes compared with in healthy participants (35.6 ± 7.7 vs 39.6 ± 6.8 ml min−1 kg−1, p < 0.01) despite comparable levels of habitual physical activity (moderate to vigorous physical activity by accelerometery, 234.9 ± 160.0 vs 280.1 ± 114.9 min/week). Compared with non-diabetic participants, individuals with type 1 diabetes also displayed a blunted exercise-induced vasoreactivity (muscle blood volume at peak exercise as reflected by ∆ total haemoglobin, 2.03 ± 5.82 vs 5.33 ± 5.54 $μ$mol/l; interaction ‘exercise' × ‘group', p < 0.05); this was accompanied by lower K+ concentration (p < 0.05), reduced plasma l-arginine (p < 0.05)—in particular when HbA1c was high (mean estimation: −4.0, p < 0.05)—and lower plasma urate levels (p < 0.01). Nonetheless, exhaustive exercise did not worsen lipid peroxidation or other oxidative stress biomarkers, and erythrocytic enzymatic antioxidant resources were mobilised to a comparable extent in both groups. Nitrite and total nitrosation products, which are potential alternative NO sources, were similarly unaltered. [Figure not available: see fulltext.] Conclusions/interpretation: Participants with uncomplicated type 1 diabetes displayed reduced availability of l-arginine, the essential substrate for enzymatic nitric oxide synthesis, as well as lower levels of the major plasma antioxidant, urate. Lower urate levels may reflect a defect in the activity of xanthine oxidase, an enzyme capable of producing NO from nitrite under hypoxic conditions. Thus, both canonical and non-canonical NO production may be reduced. However, neither of these changes exacerbated exercise-induced oxidative stress. Trial registration: NCT02051504