Insulin Resistance Accelerates Atherosclerosis

Another consequence of the overeating and lack of exercise that leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes: "In people with insulin resistance or full-blown diabetes, an inability to keep blood sugar levels under control isn't the only problem by far. A new report [shows] that our arteries suffer the effects of insulin resistance, too, just for entirely different reasons. ... Earlier studies showed that in the context of systemic insulin resistance, blood vessels become resistant, too. Doctors also knew that insulin resistance and the high insulin levels to which it leads are independent risk factors for vascular disease. But it wasn't clear if arteries become diseased because they can't respond to insulin or because they get exposed to too much of it. Now comes evidence in favor of the former explanation. ... mice prone to atherosclerosis fare much worse when the linings of their arteries can't respond to insulin. The animals' insulin-resistant arteries develop plaques that are twice the size of those on normal arteries. Insulin-resistant blood vessels don't open up as well, and levels of a protein known as VCAM-1 go up in them, too. VCAM-1 belongs to a family of adhesion molecules [which sit on the endothelium and bind] white blood cells. ... Those cells can enter the artery wall, where they start taking up cholesterol, and an early plaque is born. ... The results provide definitive evidence that loss of insulin signaling in the endothelium, in the absence of competing systemic risk factors, accelerates atherosclerosis."


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