Sclerostin is the name of a protein that plays an important role in vascular health and can protect against hardening of the arteries, particularly in type 2 diabetes, while at the same time reducing the risk of serious cardiovascular diseases.
In a new study involving experts from the University of Granada, the concentration of sclerostin was first determined in people with type 2 diabetes in order to analyze the role of the protein in hardening of the arteries. The results can be read in the English-language journal “Cardiovascular Diabetology”.
Sclerostin is not only important for bones
Sclerostin is best known for playing an important role in bone health. The research now shows that the protein is also associated with improved blood vessel protection in people with type 2 diabetes.
The team examined 139 participants with type 2 diabetes, 48 of whom suffered from cardiovascular disease. There was also a control group of 121 healthy people who did not suffer from diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
The researchers not only determined the sclerostin level in the serum, but also analyzed sclerostin expression in calcified and non-calcified arteries of the lower extremities. It was found that participants with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease had significantly elevated sclerostin concentrations, suggesting a possible link between sclerostin and atherosclerosis.
Finally, in in vitro experiments on vascular smooth muscle cells that mimicked the pathophysiological conditions of people with type 2 diabetes, overexpression of sclerostin was shown to reduce calcium deposition, cell proliferation, inflammation, and generally promote cell survival, reports the team in a current press release.
Protection against atherosclerosis
According to the researchers, the results of the study show that sclerostin plays a positive role in reducing arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis.
Hardening of the arteries and atherosclerosis are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different aspects of the same process. Hardening of the arteries refers to the hardening of the arteries in general, whereas atherosclerosis specifically describes the process of plaque formation in the arteries.
Impact on therapies?
In atherosclerosis, for example, cholesterol and fats build up in the arteries. This causes so-called plaques to form. These are known to impede blood flow and can contribute to an increased risk of serious cardiovascular disease.
The new study results make it clear that the use of so-called anti-sclerostin antibody therapies in type 2 diabetes should be reconsidered because blocking sclerostin activity could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, experts warn. (as)