The endothelium in health and disease: A discussion of the contribution of non-nitric oxide endothelium-derived vasoactive mediators to vascular homeostasis in normal vessels and in type II diabetes
Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
Endothelial dysfunction is considered as a major risk factor of cardiovascular complications of type I and types II diabetes. Impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilatation can be directly linked to a decreased synthesis of the endothelium-derived nitric oxide (NO) and/or an increase in the production of reactive oxygen species such as superoxide. Administration of tetrahydrobiopterin, an important co-factor for the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS), has been demonstrated to enhance NO production in prehypertensive rats, restore endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in coronary arteries following reperfusion injury, aortae from streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats and in patients with hypercholesterolemia. Tetrahydrobiopterin supplementation has been shown to improve endothelium-dependent relaxation in normal individuals, patients with type II diabetes and in smokers. These findings from different animal models as well as in clinical trials lead to the hypothesis that tetrahydrobiopterin, or a precursor thereof, could be a new and an effective therapeutic approach for the improvement of endothelium function in pathophysiological conditions. In addition to NO, the endothelium also produces a variety of other vasoactive factors and a key question is: Is there also a link to changes in the synthesis/action of these other endothelium-derived factors to the cardiovascular complications associated with diabetes? Endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor, or EDHF, is thought to be an extremely important vasodilator substance notably in the resistance vasculature. Unfortunately, the nature and, indeed, the very existence of EDHF remains obscure. Potentially there are multiple EDHFs demonstrating vessel selectivity in their actions. However, until now, identity and properties of EDHF that determine the therapeutic potential of manipulating EDHF remains unknown. Here we briefly review the current status of EDHF and the link between EDHF and endothelial dysfunction associated with diabetes.