"We took everything into account," says first author Amy E. Riek, MD, instructor in medicine. "We looked at blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes control, body weight and race. But only vitamin D levels correlated to whether these cells stuck to the blood vessel wall."
Riek and Bernal-Mizrachi say what's not yet clear is whether giving vitamin D to people with diabetes will reverse their risk of developing clogged arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. They now are treating mice with vitamin D to see whether it can prevent monocytes from adhering to the walls of blood vessels near the heart, and they also are conducting two clinical trials in patients.
In one of those studies, the researchers are giving vitamin D to people with diabetes and hypertension to see whether the treatment may lower blood pressure. In the second study, African Americans with type 2 diabetes are getting vitamin D along with their other daily medications, and the research team is evaluating whether vitamin D supplements can slow or reverse the progression of heart disease.
Sometime in the next several months, the scientists hope to determine whether vitamin D treatment can reverse some of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
"In the future, we hope to generate medications, potentially even vitamin D itself, that help prevent the deposit of cholesterol in the blood vessels," Bernal-Mizrachi explains. "Previous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency in these patients to increases in cardiovascular disease and in mortality. Other work has suggested that vitamin D may improve insulin release from the pancreas and insulin sensitivity. Our ultimate goal is to intervene in people with diabetes and to see whether vitamin D might decrease inflammation, reduce blood pressure and lessen the like
|Contact: Jim Dryden|
Washington University School of Medicine