Researchers examine molecular relationships between diabetes and heart disease

February 19, 2014 by Sathya Achia Abraham
Proposed mechanisms of cardio protection by rapamycin in type 2 diabetes. Rapamycin inhibits mTOR signaling and subsequently prevents endothelial dysfunction, obesity, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stresses. This eventually prevents diabetic-induced cardiac dysfunction in type 2 diabetes. Credit: Anindita Das, Ph.D./ VCU.

(Medical Xpress)—Chronic treatment with low doses of a drug used to boost organ survival in transplant patients has been found to improve metabolism and heart dysfunction in an animal model, according to a new study from Virginia Commonwealth University.

As the number of patients with type 2 diabetes reaches epidemic proportions worldwide – and is expected to double during the next 20 years – researchers are working to gain a basic understanding of the molecular relationships between diabetes and heart disease to identify new drug targets. Diabetes is associated with heart attack, and patients with elevated fasting glucose are at a three-fold increased risk of mortality following a heart attack.

In a study published Feb. 14in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers report that rapamycin, an antibiotic used to boost organ survival in , may protect the heart against complications associated with type 2 diabetes in an .

Using cutting-edge physiological, molecular and proteomic approaches, the team closely examined a key signaling pathway called mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). It is a signaling pathway responsible for the regulation of cell growth and metabolism, and has been implicated in a number of human diseases, including diabetes.

"Rapamycin treatment improves metabolism in diabetic mice with significant reduction in body weight, heart weight, plasma glucose, insulin levels and triglyceride levels," said contributing author Rakesh C. Kukreja, Ph.D., professor of medicine, Eric Lipman Chair of Cardiology and Scientific Director at the Virginia Commonwealth University Pauley Heart Center.

"In addition, the drug prevents cardiac dysfunction in , possibly through reducing oxidative stress and altering proteins that assist in maintaining the contractility of the diabetic heart," said Anindita Das, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at VCU, who led the study.

In 2006, in a study published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, the team reported a protective role of rapamycin against in a non-diabetic animal model.

According to Das and Kukreja, further research is needed to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying metabolic and heart function benefits of rapamycin in patients with diabetes. The team has plans for new studies in translational animal models of to show that rapamycin can minimize damage to the heart after an acute .

"These investigations may help in rapid initiation of clinical trials for safe development of this promising therapy in patients," Kukreja said.

Explore further: Drug trio improved effectiveness of cancer treatment, protected heart

Related Stories

Drug trio improved effectiveness of cancer treatment, protected heart

November 6, 2012
Combining cancer medication with a drug for erectile dysfunction and one for heart transplants helped kill cancer cells and protected the heart from damage, in a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific ...

Study finds possible link between diabetes and increased risk of heart attack death

February 15, 2013
Having diabetes doubles a person's risk of dying after a heart attack, but the reason for the increased risk is not clear. A new University of Iowa study suggests the link may lie in the over-activation of an important heart ...

Most patients at diabetes risk consider themselves healthy

January 24, 2014
(HealthDay)—Nearly 80 percent of patients at elevated risk for type 2 diabetes think they are in excellent or very good health, according to a new survey from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Study reveals how cancer drug causes diabetic-like state

April 3, 2012
Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered why diabetic-like symptoms develop in some patients given rapamycin, an immune-suppressant drug that also has shown anti-cancer activity and may even slow ageing.

Lifespan-extending drug given late in life reverses age-related heart disease in mice

June 10, 2013
Elderly mice suffering from age-related heart disease saw a significant improvement in cardiac function after being treated with the FDA-approved drug rapamycin for just three months. The research, led by a team of scientists ...

Sugar overload can damage heart, research shows

June 14, 2013
Too much sugar can set people down a pathway to heart failure, according to a study led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Recommended for you

Study finds walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

July 28, 2017
Research led by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut, which suggests ...

Green tea ingredient may ameliorate memory impairment, brain insulin resistance, and obesity

July 28, 2017
A study published online in The FASEB Journal, involving mice, suggests that EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), the most abundant catechin and biologically active component in green tea, could alleviate high-fat and high-fructose ...

Manipulating a type of brain cell gets weight loss results in mice

July 28, 2017
A new study has found something remarkable: the activation of a particular type of immune cell in the brain can, on its own, lead to obesity in mice. This striking result provides the strongest demonstration yet that brain ...

Team finds link between backup immune defense, mutation seen in Crohn's disease

July 27, 2017
Genes that regulate a cellular recycling system called autophagy are commonly mutated in Crohn's disease patients, though the link between biological housekeeping and inflammatory bowel disease remained a mystery. Now, researchers ...

Study finds harmful protein on acid triggers a life-threatening disease

July 27, 2017
Using an array of modern biochemical and structural biology techniques, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have begun to unravel the mystery of how acidity influences a small protein called serum ...

CRISPR sheds light on rare pediatric bone marrow failure syndrome

July 27, 2017
Using the gene editing technology CRISPR, scientists have shed light on a rare, sometimes fatal syndrome that causes children to gradually lose the ability to manufacture vital blood cells.

0 comments

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.