Protoporphyrin (PpIX), a porphyrin derivative, is the intermediate metabolic precursor of the heme molecule. Abnormal metabolism of total erythrocyte PpIX has been observed in diseases such as cancer, lead poisoning, psoriasis, iron deficiency anemia and acute porphyries. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a complex metabolic syndrome in which hyperglycemia is the primary clinical manifestation and contributes to the diabetic complications. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of fluorescence spectroscopy of erythrocyte PpIX for monitoring the early stages of diabetes. A total of 14 male C 57BL mice, 6 weeks old, were divided into two groups: diabetic and non-diabetic. Diabetes was induced by intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin (SZT). Blood cells were cultured with standard and 50 mM supplemented RPMI medium. Blood smears were prepared and stained for qualitative morphology analysis under optical microscopy. Blood porphyrin autofluorescence was analyzed by fluorescence spectroscopy. Characteristic PpIX emission spectra were obtained by exciting the samples at 405 nm. Average blood glucose was lower in the control group than in the diabetic group (156.50 ± 6 8.11 mg/dL vs. 371.10 ± 6 14.43 mg/dL, P < 0.05). Both diabetic and glucose-cultured erythroblasts showed a significant decrease (around 30.5% and 40%, respectively) in the emission band intensity at 635 nm. Our results indicate that the erythrocyte PpIX profile could be used as a biological monitor for diabetes.

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