New Study Identifies a Novel Cause of Vascular Injury in Type 2 Diabetes

Cardiovascular disease is one of the many complications that a patient with type 2 diabetes can develop. It is related to a poorer clinical outcome following a cardiovascular event, especially heart attacks. 

A new study recently published in the journal Diabetes suggests that a lack of a specific molecule in red blood cells may be the root of type 2 diabetes induced cardiovascular complications. Other studies have shown that these specialized cells undergo several changes and can become dysfunctional in people with this form of diabetes. 

Patients with type 2 diabetes have a twofold increased risk of cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, stroke, peripheral vascular disease) and is also the main cause of death in type 2 diabetes patients. 

New Research Study Results

Researchers noted that red blood cells in people with type 2 diabetes have a reduced ability to produce nitric oxide. This can lead to the constriction of coronary arteries. Type 2 diabetes can also affect the release of adenosine triphosphate by red blood cells. This is the primary molecule for storing and transferring energy within the body. 

They also found that people with diabetes have an increased formation of reactive oxygen species. The presence of these molecules can lead to more plaque formation on the interior walls of arteries, a health problem called atherosclerosis. 

The study included 36 participants with type 2 diabetes and 32 healthy participants who did not take medication and had normal fasting glucose levels and no history of cardiovascular disease. 

The researchers found that the red blood cells of those with type 2 diabetes had much less microRNA-210 than those of the healthy participants. MicroRNA molecules occur naturally and regulate cellular functions, including vascular activity.

The study showed that the reduction in microRNA-210 caused changes in specific vascular protein levels. These alterations contributed to the development of endothelial dysfunction. The endothelium is the thin membrane that lines the heart and blood vessels. Also, they noticed that glycemic control appeared to have no major influence on the detrimental effect of the changes to red blood cells in diabetic patients. 

The researchers think that their results in the role of microRNA-210 may become a potential diagnostic marker to predict possible vascular complications in patients with type 2 diabetes. 


Leigh Ann Green. (2021, Nov 12). Scientists identify new cause of vascular injury in type 2 diabetes. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:

Muhammad Abdul-Ghani, et al. Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes: Has the Dawn of a New Era Arrived? Diabetes Care 2017 Jul; 40(7): 813-820. 

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