Sclerostin may protect against heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes

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A study conducted by the MP20-Biomarkers of the Metabolic and Bone Diseases Research Group at the Biohealth Research Institute of Granada (ibs.GRANADA), led by UGR Professor Manuel Muñoz Torres, provided important insights into the role of sclerostin in protection against atherosclerosis. In patients with type 2 diabetes.

Sclerostin, normally associated with the regulation of bone formation, has emerged as a protective factor for vascular health, particularly in people with type 2 diabetes. Atherosclerosis, a common complication of the disease, deposits cholesterol and fatty substances in the arteries, causing plaque that can reduce blood flow and increase the risk of serious cardiovascular disease.

Led by Professor Manuel Muñoz Torres, together with Dr. Beatriz García Fontana and Dr. Cristina García Fontana, the study included 121 controls and 139 people with type 2 diabetes (48 with cardiovascular disease and 91 without). The results showed significantly higher levels of sclerostin in patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, suggesting a possible link between this protein and atherosclerosis. Sclerostin has also been shown to play a beneficial role in reducing arterial calcification, which is associated with the development of atherosclerosis.

ibs.GRANADA, “San Cecilio” University Hospital of Granada, “Carlos III” Health Institute Network Biomedical Research on Frailty and Healthy Aging (CIBERFES) as well as a team of scientists from the UGR in vitro Experiments on vascular smooth muscle cells, replication of pathophysiological conditions in patients with type 2 diabetes. They found that sclerostin overexpression reduced calcium deposition, reduced cell proliferation and inflammation, and promoted cell survival.

The findings, part of researcher Sheila González Salvatierra’s doctoral thesis activity, raise concerns about the use of anti-sclerostin antibody treatment in type 2 diabetes patients, as blocking sclerostin may increase cardiovascular risk. This finding highlights the importance of following regulatory guidelines when prescribing these drugs, which are contraindicated in people with high cardiovascular risk.

The authors of the study noted the clinical relevance of these findings, which are likely to significantly influence therapeutic strategies for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study was funded by the Regional Government of Andalusia, the “Carlos III” Health Institute, the European Regional Development Fund, and the Network Biomedical Research on Frailty and Healthy Aging (CIBERFES).

About the group

ibs.GRANADA’s MP20-BIOMARKERS OF METABOLIC AND BONE DISEASE research group is dedicated to identifying biomarkers and new therapeutic targets in common diseases. Their research lines cover a wide range of important areas, from the development of innovative diagnostic kits in collaboration with biotechnology companies to clinical trials of anti-osteoporotic and anti-diabetic drugs. The group pioneered the use of non-invasive techniques such as the trabecular bone score and 3D shaper to assess bone architecture and diagnose bone fragility at an early stage.

The group’s research also focuses on understanding the role of bone and muscle as endocrine organs and identifying molecules that inhibit metabolic pathways associated with vascular complications in patients with type 2 diabetes, using bioinformatics tools such as molecular docking and structural biology techniques. They investigate genetic, hormonal and nutritional influences on bone fragility, as well as interactions between age-related diseases such as bone fragility, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Their collaboration with prominent research networks such as CIBERFES and the Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN) extends their reach and contributes to significant advances in knowledge in these key areas of health.


Journal Reference:

Gonzalez-Salvatier, S., etc (2023). Cardioprotective function of sclerostin by reducing calcium accumulation, proliferation and apoptosis in human vascular smooth muscle cells. Cardiovascular Diabetology.

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