Activation of endothelial cells during insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: A biochemical and morphological study

N. Cester, R. A. Rabini, E. Salvolini, R. Staffolani, A. Curatola, A. Pugnaloni, M. A. Brunelli, G. Biagini, L. Mazzanti

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Plasma membrane lipid dynamics and cellular morphology were evaluated in endothelial cells obtained from umbilical cords of five women affected by insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and six healthy pregnant women of similar age and gestational age. Endothelial cells were prepared by an adaptation of the method of Jaffe et al. Membrane fluidity was studied by means of the steady-state fluorescence anisotropy (r) of 1-(4- trimethylaminophenyl)-6-phenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (TMA-DPH), a fluorescent probe specifically anchoring at the membrane surface. Fluid phase endocytosis was evaluated by the measurement of the changes in fluorescence intensity of TMA-DPH at various times, owing to the internalization of the fluorescent marker in endocytic vesicles. The morphological and morphometric studies were performed by means of transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Endothelial cells obtained from IDDM women showed: (a) increased fluidity of the superficial region of the plasma membrane; (b) a more active fluid phase endocytosis compared with cells froth healthy women; (c) increase in mitochondrial area, Weibel-Palade bodies and rough reticulum with wide cisternae. No statistically significant correlation was found between metabolic control and membrane fluidity and endocytosis. All the observed modifications suggest the presence of endothelial cell activation with membrane reshaping during IDDM. These alterations might play a central role in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis and microangiopathy associated with diabetes mellitus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-573
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Diabetes
  • electron microscopy
  • endocytosis
  • endothelial cell
  • membrane fluidity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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