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Endothelial dysfunction in diabetes mellitus

Authors Hadi AR Hadi, Jassim Al Suwaidi

Published 15 January 2008 Volume 2007:3(6) Pages 853—876

Hadi AR Hadi, Jassim Al Suwaidi

Department of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery, Hamad General Hospital – Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, State of Qatar; Department of Cardioscience, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abstract: Diabetes mellitus is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even in the presence of intensive glycemic control. Substantial clinical and experimental evidence suggest that both diabetes and insulin resistance cause a combination of endothelial dysfunctions, which may diminish the anti-atherogenic role of the vascular endothelium. Both insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction appear to precede the development of overt hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. Therefore, in patients with diabetes or insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction may be a critical early target for preventing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Microalbuminuria is now considered to be an atherosclerotic risk factor and predicts future cardiovascular disease risk in diabetic patients, in elderly patients, as well as in the general population. It has been implicated as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and premature cardiovascular mortality for patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, as well as for patients with essential hypertension. A complete biochemical understanding of the mechanisms by which hyperglycemia causes vascular functional and structural changes associated with the diabetic milieu still eludes us. In recent years, the numerous biochemical and metabolic pathways postulated to have a causal role in the pathogenesis of diabetic vascular disease have been distilled into several unifying hypotheses. The role of chronic hyperglycemia in the development of diabetic microvascular complications and in neuropathy has been clearly established. However, the biochemical or cellular links between elevated blood glucose levels, and the vascular lesions remain incompletely understood. A number of trials have demonstrated that statins therapy as well as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors is associated with improvements in endothelial function in diabetes. Although antioxidants provide short-term improvement of endothelial function in humans, all studies of the effectiveness of preventive antioxidant therapy have been disappointing. Control of hyperglycemia thus remains the best way to improve endothelial function and to prevent atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular complications of diabetes. In the present review we provide the up to date details on this subject.

Keywords: endothelial dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance microalbumiuria