Washington: For people with diabetes, the increased risk of cardiovascular disease is an unfortunate reality, which includes atherosclerosis, a condition where the walls of the artery thicken due to accumulating fatty deposits, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center have discovered that when excessive PKC beta is found in the endothelium, the thin layer of cells that line blood vessels, atherosclerosis is exacerbated.
"Heart disease is a major cause of death for both type 1 and type 2 [diabetes]," George King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Director of Research at Joslin, said.
A team of researchers at Joslin led by Dr. King is one step closer to finding a solution for this insidious problem.
It is known that diabetic episodes of hyperglycemia and elevated levels of fatty acids cause the body to produce excessive amounts of PKC beta, an enzyme that plays a number of biological roles and has been shown to affect the cardiovascular system.
Researchers believe that the greater instance of cardiovascular disease occurs partly because PKC beta indirectly inhibits the production of the anti-atherogenic, nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is vital to cardiovascular health, reducing the work the heart has to perform to pump blood and lowering the heart rate. In fact, lowered levels of nitric oxide are an early indicator of cardiovascular disease.
Now that excessive PKC beta has been shown to exacerbate atherosclerosis, researchers are hopeful that they will find better ways to manage cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients.
The findings are published on-line by Circulation Research.