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Diabetologia. 1999 Dec;42(12):1383-94.

Endothelin: emerging role in diabetic vascular complications.

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Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Since the discovery of endothelin-1 as the most potent endothelial-derived vasoconstrictor/mitogenic peptide a decade ago, considerable evidence has implicated this peptide in various cardiovascular disease states, including diabetes mellitus. Plasma and tissue concentrations of endothelin-1 as well as responses to the peptide are changed in various forms of the disease in humans and animals. Endothelin activity is also altered in atherosclerotic and ischaemic disease, nephropathy, retinopathy, erectile dysfunction, and neuropathy, many of the well-known complications of diabetes. Striking new evidence shows that antagonists of the endothelin system might beneficially affect and potentially overcome some of these complications. Despite this, lack of direct proof of causation makes this peptide's role in the disease uncertain. This review examines the current state of thought on the role of endothelin in diabetes and in the complications of the disease as well as the likely roles of altered metabolic variables in modulating endothelin-1 concentrations and its activity. It is concluded that although alterations in endothelin-1 release and action are clearly associated with the diabetic state, further studies using inhibitors of the endothelin system are warranted to determine its precise role in the complications of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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