Protein block stops vascular damage in diabetes

June 5, 2013

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered how to stop the destructive process that leads to cardiovascular disease in diabetic laboratory animals.

It is well known that levels significantly raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is unclear, however, why this happens. An important part of the explanation may be NFAT, a protein activated when blood sugar is raised and which starts a chain of events that damage the blood vessels and accelerate the development of atherosclerosis.

"We have now shown that it is possible to stop the atherosclerosis caused by diabetes despite the fact that the mice continued to have high ", said Maria Gomez, a researcher at the Lund University Diabetes Centre. Over the course of four weeks, the researchers gave diabetic mice a new substance originally developed as an immunosuppressant that prevented the activation of the NFAT protein.

Apart from the blood vessels, the substance did not affect NFAT in any other cells of the body.

"That is important. We don't want to suppress the whole immune system. We also saw that the substance only has an effect when NFAT is active. The was only stopped in diabetic mice and not in non-diabetic mice, which had levels", Anna Zetterqvist points out.

"It appears that there are different mechanisms behind plaque formation caused by diabetes and not caused by diabetes", she added.

The process of plaque formation in the blood vessels of resembles the process in humans. The plaques go through the same stages and the damage worsens with age.

"Despite major progress in the treatment of cardiovascular disease in recent decades, there is no treatment that specifically targets the damage to the blood vessels experienced by . Our findings show that blocking the NFAT protein could constitute such a treatment", said Maria Gomez.

Explore further: Immune system protein could explain pancreatitis

More information: 'Inhibition of nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) suppresses accelerated atherosclerosis in diabetic mice', PLOS ONE, June 3, 2013.

Related Stories

Diabetes drug may reduce brain damage after stroke

December 3, 2012

In a study in mice, scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered a new potential therapy that may reduce brain damage following stroke in type 2 diabetic patients. The suggested drug is already approved for ...

New mouse model confirms how type 2 diabetes develops

May 3, 2013

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a new mouse model that answers the question of what actually happens in the body when type 2 diabetes develops and how the body responds to drug treatment. Long-term ...

The search for an early biomarker to fight atherosclerosis

May 14, 2013

The Journal of the American Heart Association published the conclusive results from a study directed by Dr. √Čric Thorin of the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI), which suggests for the first time that a blood protein contributes ...

Adult stem cells could hold key to curing Type 1 diabetes

May 29, 2013

Millions of people with type 1 diabetes depend on daily insulin injections to survive. They would die without the shots because their immune system attacks the very insulin-producing cells it was designed to protect. Now, ...

Recommended for you

Drug prevents type 1 diabetes in mice, study finds

September 14, 2015

The buildup of a substance in the pancreas during the pre-symptomatic stage of Type 1 diabetes is essential to the development of the disease, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have shown.

Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes

June 1, 2015

Bacteria and viruses have an obvious role in causing infectious diseases, but microbes have also been identified as the surprising cause of other illnesses, including cervical cancer (Human papilloma virus) and stomach ulcers ...

Engineered hot fat implants reduce weight gain in mice

August 20, 2015

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a novel way to engineer the growth and expansion of energy-burning "good" fat, and then found that this fat helped reduce weight gain and lower blood glucose ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.