Adenosine is an important physiological regulator of the cardiovascular system. The goal of our study was to assess the expression level of nucleoside transporters (NT) in diabetic rat cardiomyocytes and to examine the activities of adenosine metabolizing enzymes. Isolated rat cardiomyocytes displayed the presence of detectable amounts of mRNA for ENT1, ENT2, CNT1, and CNT2. Overall adenosine (10 μM) transport in cardiomyocytes isolated from normal rat was 36 pmol/mg/min. The expression level of equilibrative transporters (ENT1, ENT2) decreased and of concentrative transporters (CNT1, CNT2) increased in myocytes isolated from diabetic rat. Consequently, overall adenosine transport decreased by 30%, whereas Na+-dependent adenosine uptake increased 2-fold, and equilibrative transport decreased by 60%. The activity ratio of AMP deaminase/5'-nucleotidase in cytosol of normal cardiomyocytes was 11 and increased to 15 in diabetic cells. The activity of ecto-5'-nucleotidase increased 2-fold in diabetic cells resulting in a rise of the activity ratio of ecto-5'-nucleotidase/adenosine deaminase from 28 to 56.
These results indicate that in rat cardiomyocytes diabetes alters activities of adenosine metabolizing enzymes in such a way that conversion of AMP to IMP is favored in the cytosolic compartment, whereas the capability to produce adenosine extracellularly is increased. This is accompanied by an increased unidirectional Na+-dependent uptake of adenosine and significantly reduced bidirectional adenosine transport.