We studied the influence of experimentally induced DM1, in combination with different dietary n6:n3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ratios on different types of nerve fibers in rat myocardium, in order to reveal whether protective/unfavorable effects of different PUFAs on myocardial function in diabetic patients could be a (partial) repercussion of their effect on the changes in cardiac innervation. The control group (c) and diabetic group (stz) were fed with an n6/n3 ratio of ≈7; the diet of the stz+n6 group had an n6/n3 ratio ≈60, while the diet for the stz+DHA group contained 2.5% of fish oil (containing 16% eicosapentaenoic acid—EPA and 19% docosahexaenoic acid—DHA), n6/n3 ratio of ≈1. DM1 was induced by i.p. injection of streptozotocin (55 mg/kg) and rats were euthanized 30 days after induction. Immunohistochemistry was used for the detection and quantification of different types of neuronal fibers in the cardiac septum. We found changes in cardiac innervations characteristics for the initial phase of experimental DM1, which manifested as an increase in total number and area density of all neuronal fibers, measured by Pgp9.5 immunoreactivity. By detailed analysis, we found that this increase consisted mostly of heavy myelinated NF200 immunoreactive fibers and TH immunoreactive sympathetic fibers, while the density of ChAT immunoreactive parasympathetic fibers decreased. In the deep (middle) part of the myocardium, where rare fibers (of all studied types) were found, significant differences were not found. Surprisingly, we found a more consistent protective effect of n6 PUFAs, in comparison to n3 PUFAs supplementation. These results may provide a better understanding of the potential impacts of different PUFA ratios in the diet of diabetic patients on cardiac innervation and genesis and outcome of diabetic autonomic cardiomyopathy.
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