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Eur J Endocrinol. 2007 Jul;157(1):31-8.

Lower heart rate variability is associated with higher plasma concentrations of IL-6 in type 1 diabetes.

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Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Nutrition, Hospital de Sabadell, Parc Taulí s/n, 08208 Sabadell, Spain.



In type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (CAN) is associated with cardiovascular risk factors related to insulin resistance, which in turn are associated with low-grade systemic inflammation. Reduced heart rate variability (HRV) is considered one of the first indicators of CAN. Since the autonomic nervous system interacts with systemic inflammation, we evaluated CAN to study its possible association with low-grade systemic inflammation.


Cross-sectional study of a group of 120 subjects diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus 14 years before.


Information recorded: 1) clinical characteristics: sex, age, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), blood pressure (BP), smoking, alcohol intake, insulin dose, HbA1c, and lipid profile; 2) plasma levels of soluble fractions of tumour necrosis factor alpha receptors 1 and 2, IL-6, and C-reactive protein; 3) insulin resistance by estimation of the glucose disposal rate (eGDR); and 4) tests for CAN: HRV in response to deep breathing (E/I ratio), HRV in response to the Valsalva maneuver, and changes in systolic BP responding to standing.


A significant negative correlation was found between E/I ratio and plasma concentrations of IL-6 (r=-0.244, P=0.032), which remained significant after adjusting for potential confounding factors (age, sex, HbA1c, WHR, diastolic BP, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, retinopathy, nephropathy, peripheral neuropathy, insulin dose, and smoking; r=-0.231, P=0.039). No other significant associations were found between inflammation-related proteins, tests for CAN, and eGDR.


These findings suggest a link between low-grade inflammation and early alterations of CAN in type 1 diabetes and may be of importance in the pathogenesis of CAN and/or its clinical implications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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