Electrocardiographic changes with the onset of diabetes and the impact of aerobic exercise training in the Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rat

Lisa VanHoose, Youssef Sawers, Rajprasad Loganathan, James L. Vacek, Lisa Stehno-Bittel, Lesya Novikova, Muhammed Al-Jarrah, Irina V. Smirnova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Early markers of diabetic autonomic neuropathy (DAN) in an electrocardiogram (ECG) include elevated R wave amplitudes, widening of QTc intervals and decreased heart rate variability (HRV). The severity of DAN has a direct relationship with mortality risk. Aerobic exercise training is a common recommendation for the delay and possible reversal of cardiac dysfunction. Limited research exists on ECG measures for the evaluation of aerobic exercise training in Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rat, a model of type 2 diabetes. The objective of this study was to assess whether aerobic exercise training may attenuate diabetes induced ECG changes.Methods: Male ZDF (obese fa/fa) and control Zucker (lean fa/+) rats were assigned to 4 groups: sedentary control (SC), sedentary diabetic (SD), exercised control (EC) and exercised diabetic (ED). The exercised groups began 7 weeks of treadmill training after the development of diabetes in the ED group. Baseline (prior to the training) and termination measurements included body weight, heart weight, blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin levels and ECG parameters. One way repeated measures ANOVA (group) analyzed within and between subject differences and interactions. Pearson coefficients and descriptive statistics described variable relationships and animal characteristics.Results: Diabetes caused crucial changes in R wave amplitudes (p < 0.001), heart rate variability (p < 0.01), QT intervals (p < 0.001) and QTc intervals (p < 0.001). R wave amplitude augmentation in SD rats from baseline to termination was ameliorated by exercise, resulting in R wave amplitude changes in ED animals similar to control rats. Aerobic exercise training neither attenuated QT or QTc interval prolongation nor restored decreases in HRV in diabetic rats.Conclusion: This study revealed alterations in R wave amplitudes, HRV, QT and QTc intervals in ZDF rats. Of these changes, aerobic exercise training was able to correct R wave amplitude changes. In addition, exercise has beneficial effect in this diabetic rat model in regards to ECG correlates of left ventricular mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number56
JournalCardiovascular Diabetology
StatePublished - Sep 22 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Electrocardiographic changes with the onset of diabetes and the impact of aerobic exercise training in the Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this