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Why diabetes patients are at risk of microvascular complications

DiabetesResearchers have made a breakthrough I understanding why patients with diabetes are at increased risk of microvascular complications, which develop when the body's small blood vessels become diseased.

Investigators from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have discovered that a molecule called PGC-1alpha - which has previously been shown to spur the growth of blood vessels in muscle - has the opposite effect in the endothelial cells of patients with diabetes, impairing blood vessel growth and leading to dangerous vascular complications.

The new findings not only help explain the molecular mechanisms underlying microvascular disease in diabetes patients, they also suggest that because PGC-1alpha has opposing effects in different cell types, its role as a potential new therapeutic target should be pursued with caution. (Read: Beat type 2 diabetes with yoghurt and low-fat dairy products)

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With this new research, says senior author Zoltan Arany, MD, PhD, an investigator in BIDMC's CardioVascular Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), it is apparent that high levels of blood glucose -- the hallmark of diabetes -- induces high levels of the PGC-1 alpha molecule in the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels. This, in turn, prevents endothelial cells from properly functioning, inhibiting blood vessel growth. (Read: 10 ways to control diabetes naturally)

Through a series of cell culture experiments, as well as experiments in endothelial-specific genetic mouse models, the authors showed that PGC-1alpha in endothelial cells is induced by diabetes, which strongly inhibits endothelial migration and angiogenesis, and leads to vascular dysfunction.

The study has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Tips to prevent diabetes

Get your sugar levels checked: A lot of people have prediabetes (fasting sugar: 100-125 mg/dl) and are totally clueless about it. A blood sugar test will help you to understand whether you're prediabetic and what are your chances of developing diabetes. If you get diagnosed with prediabetes, then you can take the right steps and prevent it from transforming into irreversible diabetes. Here are things you should know about prediabetes.

Change your lifestyle: Sometimes, small changes can make a huge difference. Lifestyle intervention for preventing diabetes is the best example for this. Several studies on diabetes prevention programme have proved that diabetes can be prevented effectively by giving up sedentary lifestyle and adopting healthier changes. Read more about sedentary lifestyle and diabetes risk.

Eat healthy: Eat a healthy diet that has low calories, especially low saturated fats. Trials have shown that fat intake should not exceed 30 percent of the total calorie intake, whereas saturated fats should be restricted to just 10 percent. Include more of vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, dairy products and sources of omega 3 fats. Also, increase your fibre intake. Here's how fibre can help you to prevent diabetes.

Eat smart by limiting your portion size: How much you eat and when you eat is as important as what you eat. Reducing portion size and dividing meals throughout the day reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes.Eatingproportionately will definitely be more helpful than starving yourself and overeating later due to excessive hunger. Irregularity in pattern of eating also causes drastic changes in blood sugar levels. Read more

With inputs from ANI

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