A diet high in sugar has been long known to correlate with a risk of cardiovascular disease, and new research from the University of Leicester illustrates just how blood vessel contraction, which leads to high blood pressure, is instigated by high levels of blood glucose.
Jeremy Pearson, PhD, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, praised the study for opening up the possibility for “improved treatment for patients where recovery from heart attack is complicated by raised glucose levels.” The study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
Dr. Richard Rainbow and his team from Leicester discovered the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in the “enhanced contractile response” of blood vessels in the presence of high glucose levels. Cell signaling members of the PKC family regulate various cellular processes like gene expression, protein secretion, cell proliferation, and the inflammatory response (Cell Signal
The researchers were able to isolate the impact of glucose on the cardiac muscle cells of the arteries, called myocytes, using electrophysiology studies (EPS) and myography systems. Using EPS, they conducted tests that measure arrhythmias, and the information from myography tests provided insight into the “physiological function and properties” of blood vessels (DMT
In addition to targeting PKC as a key player in increased blood vessel contraction, Rainbow and his team also found that they could “restore the normal level of contractile response and reverse the effects on the heart with inhibitors of these proteins.”
Although it is mostly common knowledge that too much sugar is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, this study from Leicester was the first to pinpoint the mechanism behind glucose-related cardiovascular problems.
In addition, this study is relevant not just for diabetics or overweight patients with cardiovascular problems.
"A large number of people who suffer a heart attack will have high glucose due to the 'stress response,’” Rainbow said. “This means that even people who are not diabetic may become hyperglycemic during a heart attack."
Source: University of Leicester