Insulin resistance can affect the arteries of type 2 diabetics

A study published in the May issue of Cell Metabolism reports that insulin resistance may affect the arteries of people who have type 2 diabetes.

Research in mice has shown that insulin helps prevent the buildup of fatty plaques that can cause a hardening of the arteries. According to doctors, insulin resistance can lead to serious complications such as vascular disease.

Lead investigator Christian Rask-Madsen and his colleagues from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston studied laboratory mice with atherosclerosis. They noticed that animals with insulin resistance in their arteries developed plaques that were twice the size of those in normal arteries. Blood vessels that are resistant to insulin do not open up as well.

"We think about insulin resistance in liver, muscle and fat, but insulin also works on vascular cells," said Rask-Madsen. "The results provide definitive evidence that loss of insulin signaling in the endothelium, in the absence of competing systemic risk factors, accelerates atherosclerosis."

The researchers emphasize that keeping an eye on levels of blood glucose will be critical, and that future treatments aimed at blood vessels could greatly benefit people with type 2 diabetes.