Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers discover root cause of blood vessel damage in diabetes

A key mechanism that appears to contribute to blood vessel damage in people with diabetes has been identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Blood vessel problems are a common diabetes complication. Many of the nearly 26 million Americans with the disease face the prospect of amputations, heart attack, stroke and vision loss because of damaged vessels.

Reporting in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Washington University researchers say studies in mice show that the damage appears to involve two enzymes, fatty acid synthase (FAS) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS), that interact in the cells that line blood vessel walls.

“We already knew that in diabetes there’s a defect in the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels,” says first author Xiaochao Wei, PhD. “People with diabetes also have depressed levels of fatty acid synthase. But this is the first time we’ve been able to link those observations together.”

Wei is a postdoctoral research scholar in the lab of Clay F. Semenkovich, MD, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine, professor of cell biology and physiology and chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research.

Wei studied mice that had been genetically engineered to make FAS in all of their tissues except the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. These so-called FASTie mice experienced problems in the vessels that were similar to those seen in animals with diabetes.

“It turns out that there are strong parallels between the complete absence of FAS and the deficiencies in FAS induced by lack of insulin and by insulin resistance,” Semenkovich says.

Comparing FASTie mice to normal animals, as well as to mice with diabetes, Wei and Semenkovich determined that mice without FAS, and with low levels of FAS, could not make the substance that anchors nitric oxide synthase to the endothelial cells in blood vessels.

“We’ve known for many years that to have an effect, NOS has to be anchored to the wall of the vessel,” Semenkovich says. “Xiaochao discovered that fatty acid synthase preferentially makes a lipid that attaches to NOS, allowing it to hook to the cell membrane and to produce normal, healthy blood vessels.”

In the FASTie mice, blood vessels were leaky, and in cases when the vessel was injured, the mice were unable to generate new blood vessel growth.

The actual mechanism involved in binding NOS to the endothelial cells is called palmitoylation. Without FAS, the genetically engineered mice lose NOS palmitoylation and are unable to modify NOS so that it will interact with the endothelial cell membrane. That results in blood vessel problems.

“In animals that don’t have fatty acid synthase and normal nitric oxide synthase in endothelial cells, we saw a lot of leaky blood vessels,” Semenkovich explains. “The mice also were more susceptible to the consequences of infection, and they couldn’t repair damage that occurred — problems that also tend to be common in people with diabetes.”

In one set of experiments, the researchers interrupted blood flow in the leg of a normal mouse and in a FASTie mouse.

“The control animals regained blood vessel formation promptly,” Semenkovich says, “but that did not happen in the animals that were modified to be missing fatty acid synthase.”

It’s a long way, however, from a mouse to a person, so the researchers next looked at human endothelial cells, and they found that a similar mechanism was at work.

“Our findings strongly suggest that if we can use a drug or another enzyme to promote fatty acid synthase activity, specifically in blood vessels, it might be helpful to patients with diabetes,” Wei says. “We also have been able to demonstrate that palmitoylation of nitric oxide synthase is impaired in diabetes, and if we can find a way to promote the palmitoylation of NOS, even independent of fatty acid synthase, it may be possible to treat some of the vascular complications of diabetes.”

And it shouldn’t matter whether a person has type 1 diabetes and can’t manufacture insulin or the more common type 2 diabetes, in which a person becomes resistant to insulin.

“That’s one of the key findings,” Semenkovich says. “It won’t matter whether it’s an absence of insulin or resistance to insulin: both are associated with defects in FAS.”

Wei X, Schneider JG, Shenouda SM, Lee A, Towler DA, Chakravarthy MV, Vita JA, Semenkovich CF. De novo lipogenesis maintains vascular homeostasis through endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) palmitoylation, Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 286(4), pp. 2933-2945. Jan. 28, 2011.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health and by awards from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Jim Dryden | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>