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Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2014 Feb;126(3-4):106-12. doi: 10.1007/s00508-013-0478-0. Epub 2013 Dec 17.

Insulin resistance may contribute to vascular dysfunction in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for COPD, Otto Wagner Hospital, Sanatoriumstrasse 2, 1140, Vienna, Austria.



Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at an increased cardiovascular risk; however, the underlying mechanisms for this relationship are ill defined. Altered glucose metabolism may increase cardiovascular risk via impaired endothelial function.


We conducted a longitudinal pilot study to assess the interrelationship between systemic vascular function, glucose metabolism, and lung function in patients with COPD. Eighteen non-smoking patients with stable moderate-to-severe COPD [67 % male; median (first to third quartiles) Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1) % predicted: 38 % (28-55 %); body mass index: 26 kg/m(2) (24-28 kg/m(2))] free from cardiovascular risk factors were evaluated. Systemic vascular function was assessed by means of flow-mediated dilation technique of the brachial artery. Laboratory measurements included fasting blood glucose levels, circulating concentrations of insulin, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen. Homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was determined. Measurements were performed at baseline and were repeated after 12 months.


Flow-mediated dilation significantly decreased from 13.5 % (11-15 %) at baseline to 9.8 % (6-12 %; p = 0.002) at the follow-up visit, whereas both fasting blood glucose concentrations and HOMA-IR increased from 94 mg/dl (86-103 mg/dl) to 102 mg/dl (94-111 mg/dl; p = 0.027) and from 1.2 (0.8-2.1) to 1.7 (1.2-3.0; p = 0.023), respectively. There was a significant relationship between changes in endothelial function and changes in fasting serum glucose (r = - 0.483, p = 0.009), HOMA-IR (r = - 0.441, p = 0.019), and FEV1 (r = 0.336, p = 0.05).


Altered glucose metabolism may be associated with progression of endothelial dysfunction in patients with COPD.

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