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Keywords:

  • antioxidant status;
  • cassava toxicity;
  • diabetes;
  • rats

Abstract

Chronic intake of cassava has been thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of diabetes. We investigated the effects of dietary cassava (Manihot esculenta), which naturally contains cyanogenic glycosides, in the progression of diabetes mellitus in rats. Diabetes was induced by five mild doses of streptozotocin, in male Wistar rats which were fed a standard or cyanide-free cassava (CFC) diet containing or not containing exogenous cyanide with or without methionine. Methionine was employed to counterbalance the toxic effects of cyanide. During diabetes progression, we determined glycaemia and antioxidant status, by measuring vitamin C levels and activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and glutathione reductase (GSSG-Red). Feeding CFC diet did not induce diabetes in control rats; rather this diet, in diabetic animals, aggravated hyperglycaemia the severity of which was increased in these animals fed CFC diet, supplemented with cyanide. Addition of methionine curtailed the toxic effects of cyanide supplementation in CFC diet-fed diabetic animals. In standard diet-fed animals, the activities of SOD, GSH-Px and GSSG-Red were lower in diabetic rats than control rats. Interestingly, all of the CFC diets with or without cyanide or methionine, increased vitamin C levels and antioxidant enzyme activities in both control and diabetic animals. However, supplementing cyanide to CFC diet (without methionine) curtailed SOD and GSH-Px activities in diabetic rats. Our study shows that cassava diet containing cyanide is ‘diabetes-aggravating’.