Excessive copper in diabetes impedes ability to make new blood vessels
It's a metal we worry thieves will steal from our air conditioners or power lines, but inside our bodies too much copper can result in a much larger loss.
Scientists have evidence that in diabetes, copper can pile up inside our cells, wreaking havoc on our ability to make new blood vessels, called angiogenesis. This impaired ability occurs even as the disease makes existing blood vessel walls less flexible, more leaky and more prone to accumulate plaque deposits and scars that impede good blood flow.
Impaired angiogenesis contributes to a host of problems from heart attacks to nerve death to loss of limbs to poor wound healing.
The problem is the disease alters the healthy copper balance that more typically enables new blood vessel formation, says Dr. Tohru Fukai, vascular biologist and cardiologist in the Vascular Biology Center at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
Treatments that target ATP7A, a copper transporter that normally helps ensure healthy copper levels for a wide variety of functions in our body, may one day help patients with diabetes recover the innate ability to make healthy new blood vessels, Fukai says.
"Normally copper is essential for angiogenesis," says Dr. Masuko Ushio-Fukai, also an MCG vascular biologist. "But in inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, copper levels within cells become excessive. In this excess copper state, what happens?"
Diabetes affects nearly 10 percent of the adult American population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fukai and Ushio-Fukai are coinvestigators on a new $2.7 million g Continue reading