Hypertension, the endothelial cell, and the vascular complications of diabetes mellitus.
Hypertension is a major factor that contributes to the development of the vascular complications of diabetes mellitus, which primarily include atherosclerosis, nephropathy, and retinopathy. The mechanism of the pathophysiological effects of hypertension lies at the cellular level in the blood vessel wall, which intimately involves the function and interaction of the endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells. Both hypertension and diabetes mellitus alter endothelial cell structure and function. In large and medium size vessels and in the kidney, endothelial dysfunction leads to enhanced growth and vasoconstriction of vascular smooth muscle cells and mesangial cells, respectively. These changes in the cells of smooth muscle lineage play a key role in the development of both atherosclerosis and glomerulosclerosis. In diabetic retinopathy, damage and altered growth of retinal capillary endothelial cells is the major pathophysiological insult leading to proliferative lesions of the retina. Thus, the endothelium emerges as a key target organ of damage in diabetes mellitus; this damage is enhanced in the presence of hypertension. An overall approach to the understanding and treatment of diabetes mellitus and its complications will be to elucidate the mechanisms of vascular disease and endothelial cell dysfunction that occur in the setting of hypertension and diabetes.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association