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J Cell Mol Med. 2012 Apr;16(4):927-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01365.x.

C-peptide promotes lesion development in a mouse model of arteriosclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine II - Cardiology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Patients with insulin resistance and early type 2 diabetes exhibit an increased propensity to develop a diffuse and extensive pattern of arteriosclerosis. Typically, these patients show elevated serum levels of the proinsulin cleavage product C-peptide and immunohistochemical data from our group revealed C-peptide deposition in early lesions of these individuals. Moreover, in vitro studies suggest that C-peptide could promote atherogenesis. This study examined whether C-peptide promotes vascular inflammation and lesion development in a mouse model of arteriosclerosis. ApoE-deficient mice on a high fat diet were treated with C-peptide or control injections for 12 weeks and the effect on lesion size and plaque composition was analysed. C-peptide treatment significantly increased C-peptide blood levels by 4.8-fold without having an effect on glucose or insulin levels, nor on the lipid profile. In these mice, C-peptide deposition in atherosclerotic plaques was significantly increased compared with controls. Moreover, lesions of C-peptide-treated mice contained significantly more macrophages (1.6 ± 0.3% versus 0.7 ± 0.2% positive area; P < 0.01) and more vascular smooth muscle cells (4.8 ± 0.6% versus 2.4 ± 0.3% positive area; P < 0.01). Finally, lipid deposition measured by Oil-red-O staining in the aortic arch was significantly higher in the C-peptide group compared with controls. Our results demonstrate that elevated C-peptide levels promote inflammatory cell infiltration and lesion development in ApoE-deficient mice without having metabolic effects. These data obtained in a mouse model of arteriosclerosis support the hypothesis that C-peptide may have an active role in atherogenesis in patients with diabetes and insulin resistance.

© 2011 The Authors Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine © 2011 Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine/Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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