Diabetes and endothelial dysfunction: a clinical perspective

Endocrine Reviews
J Calles-Escandon, M Cipolla


The main etiology for mortality and a great percent of morbidity in patients with diabetes mellitus is atherosclerosis. A hypothesis for the initial lesion of atherosclerosis is endothelial dysfunction, defined pragmatically as changes in the concentration of the chemical messengers produced by the endothelial cell and/or by blunting of the nitric oxide-dependent vasodilatory response to acetylcholine or hyperemia. Endothelial dysfunction has been documented in patients with diabetes and in individuals with insulin resistance or at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Factors associated with endothelial dysfunction in diabetes include activation of protein kinase C, overexpression of growth factors and/or cytokines, and oxidative stress. Several therapeutic interventions have been tested in clinical trials aimed at improving endothelial function in patients with diabetes. Insulin sensitizers may have a beneficial effect in the short term, but the virtual absence of trials with cardiovascular end-points preclude any definitive conclusion. Two trials offer optimism that treatment with ACE inhibitors may have a positive impact on the progression of atherosclerosis. Although widely used, the effect of hypolipidemic agents on e...Continue Reading


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