2005 Volume 41 Issue 6 Pages 283-302
Macro- and microvascular disease states currently represent the principal causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with type I or type II diabetes mellitus. Abnormal vasomotor responses and impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation have been demonstrated in various beds in different animal models of diabetes and in humans with type I or type II diabetes. Several mechanisms leading to endothelial dysfunction have been reported, including changes in substrate avail ability, impaired release of NO, and increased destruction of NO. The principal mediators of diabetes-associated endothelial dysfunction are (a) increases in oxidized low density lipoprotein, endothelin-1, angiotensin II, oxidative stress, and (b) decreases in the actions of insulin or growth factors in endothelial cells. An accumulating body of evidence indicates that abnormal regulation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/Akt pathway may be one of several factors contributing to vascular dysfunction in diabetes. The PI3-K pathway, which activates serine/threonine protein kinase Akt, enhances NO synthase phosphorylation and NO production. Several studies suggest that in diabetes the relative ineffectiveness of insulin and the hyperglycemia act together to reduce activity in the insulin-receptor substrates (IRS)/PI3-K/Akt pathway, resulting in impairments of both IRS/PI3-K/Akt-mediated endothelial function and NO production. This article summarizes the PI3-K/Akt pathway-mediated contraction and relaxation responses induced by various agents in the blood vessels of diabetic animals.