Hyperglycemia leads to excess production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid peroxidation and protein glycation that may impair cellular calcium homeostasis and results in calcium sequestration and dysfunction in diabetic tissues. Stobadine (ST) is a pyridoindole antioxidant has been postulated as a new cardio- and neuroprotectant. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that the treatment with ST inhibits calcium accumulation, reduces lipid peroxidation and protein glycation and can change Ca2+,Mg2+-ATPase activity in diabetic animals. The effects of vitamin E treatment were also evaluated and compared with the effects of combined treatment with ST. Diabetes was induced by streptozotocin (STZ, 55 mg/kg i.p.). Some of diabetic rats and their age-matched controls were treated orally with a low dose of ST (24.7 mg/kg/day), vitamin E (400-500 IU/kg/day) or ST plus vitamin E for 10 weeks. ST and vitamin E separately produced, in a similar degree, reduction in diabetes-induced hyperglycemia. Each antioxidant alone significantly lowered the levels of plasma lipid peroxidation, cardiac and hepatic protein glycation in diabetic rats but vitamin E treatment was found to be more effective than ST treatment alone. Diabetes-induced increase in plasma triacylglycerol levels was not significantly altered by vitamin E treatment but markedly reduced by ST alone. The treatment with each antioxidant completely prevented calcium accumulation in diabetic heart and liver. Microsomal Ca2+,Mg2+-ATPase activity significantly decreased in both tissues of untreated diabetic rats. ST alone significantly increased microsomal Ca2+,Mg2+-ATPase activity in the heart of normal rats. However, neither treatment with ST nor vitamin E alone, nor their combination did change cardiac Ca2+,Mg2+-ATPase activity in diabetic heart. In normal rats, neither antioxidant had a significant effect on hepatic Ca2+,Mg2+-ATPase activity. Hepatic Ca2+,Mg2+-ATPase activity of diabetic rats was not changed by single treatment with ST, while vitamin E alone completely prevented diabetes-induced inhibition in microsomal Ca2+,Mg2+-ATPase activity in liver. Combined treatment with ST and vitamin E provided more benefits in the reduction of hyperglycemia and lipid peroxidation in diabetic animals. This study describes potential mechanisms on cellular effects of ST in the presence of diabetes-induced hyperglycemia that may delay or inhibit the development of diabetic complications. The use of ST together with vitamin E can better control hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.