The importance of endothelin-1 for microvascular dysfunction in diabetes
Department of Clinical Sciences Karolinska Institutet, Dept of Cardiology, Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
Abstract: Most of the late diabetic complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy, have their basis in disturbed microvascular function. Structural and functional changes in the microcirculation are present in diabetes mellitus irrespective of the organ studied, and the pathogenesis is complex. Endothelial dysfunction, characterized by an imbalance between endothelium-derived vasodilator and vasoconstrictor substances, plays an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetic microangiopathy. Increased circulating levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoconstrictor peptide, has been found in patients with diabetes, and a positive correlation between plasma ET-1 levels and microangiopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes has been demonstrated. In addition to its direct vasoconstrictor effects, enhanced levels of ET-1 may contribute to endothelial dysfunction through inhibitory effects on nitric oxide (NO) production. Vascular endothelial dysfunction may precede insulin resistance, although the feature of insulin resistance syndrome includes factors that have negative effects on endothelial function. Furthermore, ET-1 induces a reduction in insulin sensitivity and may take part in the development of the metabolic syndrome. In the following, the mechanisms by which ET-1 contributes to the development of diabetic microangiopathy and the potentially beneficial effect of selective ETA receptor antagonists are discussed.
Keywords: endothelin-1, diabetes mellitus, microcirculation, diabetic microangiopathy, ETA-receptor antagonist
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