Atherosclerosis, insulin resistance and diet

This week’s Engineering Research Center-Bioengineering Joint Seminar, Friday January 31, 11 a.m., McNair Hall, Auditorium:

Topic: Atherosclerosis in Insulin Resistant Pigs Fed a High Fat – High NaCl Diet

Speaker: Timothy C. Nichols, MD, Professor of Medicine, Pathology & Lab Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Nichols is the Director of the Francis Owen Blood Research Laboratory.  The lab focuses on bleeding, thrombosis and atherosclerosis through the study of  genetically determined animal models. He is a board-certified adult cardiologist with experience as an invasive and interventional cardiologist. His research and clinical interests are hemorrhage, hemostasis, thrombosis, and atherosclerosis research in animal models and in clinical medicine.

Abstract: The increasing prevalence of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes is likely to be attended by a significant increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Insulin resistance (IR) is defined as a decreased biological response to normal concentrations of serum insulin that over time leads to compensatory hypersinsulinemia.

Insulin resistant and diabetic humans often develop diffuse coronary atherosclerosis involving long arterial segments and including multiple distal lesions.  These patients require intensive medical therapy, and their lesions are less amenable to angioplasty, stent placement, surgical reconstruction, or bypass.  Often disease progression outside of the stented segment of the coronary artery or bypass insertion site limits the duration of benefit in patients with IR and diabetes, and even the most aggressive medical treatment regimens do not lower the risk for CVD to the non-diabetic level.

These findings strongly suggest that available treatments are not addressing key pathophysiological mechanisms that, when activated in these patients, augment the development of atherosclerosis. Thus, we developed a relevant pig model of insulin resistance that also exhibits severe and diffuse coronary and aortic atherosclerosis for future mechanistic-oriented and intervention studies.

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