Effects of diabetes mellitus on structural and functional properties of erythrocyte membranes

R. A. Rabini, P. Fumelli, R. Staffolani, L. Mazzanti, A. Pugnaloni, G. Biagint, E. Faloia, R. De Pirro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diabetic patients present alterations in the activity of a number of enzymes of the plasma membrane. The aim of this study was to verify if the modifications of the enzymatic activities in diabetes mellitus are associated with structural alterations of the cellular membrane. By means of the freeze-fracturing technique, we studied the structure of erythrocyte membranes from 15 insulin-dependent diabetic patients (24-43 years) and 15 age-matched healthy subjects (26-47 years). The kinetic properties of the Na+/K+-ATPase of the same membranes were also investigated. The Na+/K+-ATPase of the erythrocyte plasma membrane shows an uncompetitive inhibition in the diabetic subjects. As for the freeze-fracturing results, the intramembrane particles of the erythrocyte membranes from diabetic patients appear more clustered with respect to those obtained from controls. The uncompetitive inhibition of the enzyme suggests the presence of conformational modifications of the protein. This hypothesis is supported by the freeze-fracture results which indicate that the integral protein constituents of the membrane in diabetes tend to aggregate. Modifications of the interactions between the enzymatic subunits and the membrane lipid environment might be at the basis of the Na+/K+-ATPase alteration in diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Membrane Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Erythrocyte plasma membrane
  • Freeze-fracturing
  • Intramembrane particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of diabetes mellitus on structural and functional properties of erythrocyte membranes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this