Author(s): Di Bello V, Talarico L, Picano E, Di Muro C, Landini L,
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: We sought to characterize myocardial echodensity in asymptomatic patients with insulin-dependent diabetes and normal conventional two-dimensional echocardiographic findings to determine whether ultrasound tissue characterization can detect ultrastructural changes in myocardium, such as an increase in collagen content. BACKGROUND: Fibrosis alters the acoustic properties of the heart in animals and humans, and these changes are detectable by cardiac tissue characterization with ultrasound. Early changes detected in the diabetic heart include increased interstitial collagen deposition. METHODS: Using two-dimensional echocardiography, we evaluated 26 asymptomatic patients with insulin-dependent diabetes with normal regional and global rest function, and 17 age- and gender-matched control subjects. By selection, all diabetic patients were normotensive and had negative maximal exercise stress test results to avoid the confounding effects of hypertension and coronary artery disease. Using an echocardiographic instrument implemented at the Institute of Clinical Physiology, we performed an on-line radiofrequency analysis to obtain quantitative operator-independent measurements of the integrated back-scatter signal of the ventricular septum and posterior wall. The integrated values of the radiofrequency signal from the myocardial wall were normalized for those from the pericardial interface and were expressed as percentages (integrated backscatter index). RESULTS: Diabetic patients showed a significant increase in myocardial echodensity both in the septum ([mean +/- SD] 36.6 +/- 8.1 vs. 23.6 +/- 4.4, p < 0.0001) and posterior wall (21.2 +/- 5.3 vs. 18.4 +/- 3.7, p < 0.001). By individual patient analysis, 17 patients exceeded the 95\% confidence limits for normal myocardial echocardiographic reflectivity found in normal subjects, and only 3 had a relatively abnormal transmitral Doppler filling pattern (E/A ratio), mainly consisting of an abnormally increased late peak flow velocity (65\% vs. 11\%, p < 0.001). The increased myocardial intensity was similar in patients with (n = 16) and without (n = 10) noncardiac complications, such as retinopathy or nephropathy (37.5 +/- 7.9\% vs. 35.0 +/- 8.3\%, p = 0.35). CONCLUSIONS: Abnormally increased myocardial echodensity, possibly related to collagen deposition, can be detected in asymptomatic diabetic patients with normal rest function. Theoretically, this finding might be considered a very early preclinical alteration potentially related to subsequent development of diabetic cardiomyopathy.
This article was published in J Am Coll Cardiol
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism