Scientists Discover Protective Factor Against Heart Disease
It’s well known that high blood sugar and blood lipids – cholesterol and triglycerides – in people with type 2 diabetes increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes. In a recent study involving mice, researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center identified a protective mechanism that may help prevent inflammation in the arteries and reduce the risk for heart disease.
According to researchers, high levels of glucose and lipids in the blood trigger white blood cells called monocytes to move into artery walls and evolve into other cells called macrophages, which then envelop the lipids and stick to the walls of the arteries causing them to narrow and thicken (called atherosclerosis). As this occurs, blood glucose and lipids also activate several forms of a molecule called protein kinase C (PKC), which boost inflammation by activating macrophages and improving their ability to survive and multiply.
However, in this recent study involving mice with type 2 diabetes, the researchers determined that one form of PKC – PKC-delta – actually suppresses the macrophages and protects against this inflammatory process. Additional findings suggest PKC-delta may also help prevent inflammation in people with other metabolic conditions, including obesity and metabolic syndrome. More research is needed.