Author(s): van Etten RW, de Koning EJ, Verhaar MC, Gaillard CA, Rabelink TJ
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Abstract AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Patients with diabetes are characterised by endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular mortality. In particular endothelium-derived nitric oxide has emerged as a first line mechanism against atherosclerosis. Hyperglycaemia causes oxygen radical stress but has also been associated with endothelial nitric oxide synthase uncoupling, both lead to decreased nitric oxide-availability. We recently showed that folate reverses eNOS uncoupling in vitro. Therefore we hypothesise that folate improves endothelial function in Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus in vivo. METHODS: Using forearm plethysmography, we evaluated the effect of local, intra-arterial administration of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF, the active form of folic acid, 1 microg/100 ml FAV/min) on forearm blood flow in 23 patients with Type II diabetes and 21 control subjects, matched for age, sex, blood pressure, body mass index, weight and smoking habits. Serotonin as a stimulator of nitric oxide-dependent vasodilation and sodium nitroprusside as a stimulator of endothelium-independent vasodilation were infused. RESULTS: Serotonin-induced vasodilation was blunted (53+/-30 vs 102+/-66 M/C\%, p<0.005) and nitroprusside-induced vasodilation was mildly reduced (275+/-146 vs 391+/-203 M/C\%, p<0.05) in patients with Type II diabetes compared to control subjects. 5-MTHF improved nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation (from 53+/-30 to 88+/-59 M/C\%, p<0.05) in patients with Type II diabetes mellitus. As expected, 5-MTHF had no effect on forearm blood flow in control subjects. CONCLUSION/INTERPRETATION: These data imply that folate can be used to improve nitric oxide status and to restore endothelial dysfunction in patients with Type II diabetes. Our results provide a strong rationale for the initiation of studies that investigate whether supplementation with folic acid prevents future cardiovascular events in this patient group.
This article was published in Diabetologia
and referenced in Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine