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Diabetologia. 2012 Jun;55(6):1847-55. doi: 10.1007/s00125-012-2517-1. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus worsens arterial stiffness in hypertensive patients through endothelial dysfunction.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, 56126, Pisa, Italy.



Endothelium-derived factors are thought to be physiological modulators of large artery stiffness. The aim of the study was to investigate whether endothelial function could be a determinant of arterial stiffness in essential hypertensive patients, in relation with the concomitant presence of type 2 diabetes mellitus.


The study included 341 participants (84 hypertensive patients with and 175 without type 2 diabetes mellitus, 82 matched controls). Brachial artery endothelium-dependent flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was determined by high-resolution ultrasound and computerised edge detection system. Applanation tonometry was used to measure carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV).


Hypertensive patients with diabetes had higher PWV (10.1 ± 2.3 m/s vs 8.6 ± 1.4 m/s, p < 0.001) and lower FMD (3.51 ± 2.07 vs 5.16 ± 2.96%, p < 0.001) than non-diabetic hypertensive patients, who showed impaired vascular function when compared with healthy participants (7.9 ± 1.6 m/s and 6.68 ± 3.67%). FMD was significantly and negatively correlated to PWV only in hypertensive diabetic patients (r = -0.456, p < 0.001), but not in hypertensive normoglycaemic patients (r = -0.088, p = 0.248) or in healthy participants (r = 0.008, p = 0.946). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that, in the diabetic group, FMD remained an independent predictor of PWV after adjustment for confounders (r(2) = 0.083, p = 0.003). Subgroup analysis performed in non-diabetic hypertensive patients revealed that neither obesity nor the metabolic syndrome affected the relationship between FMD and PWV.


Endothelial dysfunction is a determinant of aortic stiffness in hypertensive diabetic patients but not in hypertensive patients without diabetes. These results suggest that type 2 diabetes mellitus on top of hypertension might worsen arterial compliance by endothelium-related mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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