Patients with diabetes are often treated with a statin for hyperlipidaemia and an ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor or angiotensin receptor antagonist for hypertension or albuminuria. These drugs may also exert beneficial metabolic effects, causing improved glucose tolerance in patients. Gender-related differences have also been observed in the clinical responsiveness to these drugs, but the mechanism behind this is unclear. In the present study, we have investigated whether these drugs and the fatty acid palmitate influence the pancreatic microcirculation, thereby having an impact on insulin secretion and glycaemia in vivo, in spontaneously diabetic male and female Goto–Kakizaki rats. In male rats, pancreatic IBF (islet blood flow) and total PBF (pancreatic blood flow) were increased significantly by pravastatin, captopril and irbesartan. Serum insulin levels were increased by pravastatin and captopril. Palmitate suppressed pancreatic IBF and increased blood glucose. In female animals, pancreatic IBF was stimulated by captopril, candesartan and irbesartan. Total PBF was increased by captopril, candesartan and irbesartan, and by pravastatin. Palmitate suppressed pancreatic IBF and serum insulin secretion. In conclusion, the present study lends support to the view that a local pancreatic RAS (renin–angiotensin system) and pravastatin may be selectively influencing the pancreatic microcirculation and therefore affecting insulin secretion and glycaemia. NEFAs (non-esterified fatty acids) impaired pancreatic IBF, suppressed insulin secretion and increased blood glucose. Substantial gender-related differences in the vascular and metabolic responses to these drugs prevail in this animal model of diabetes.

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