Aims/hypothesis: We examined whether endothelial function is impaired in patients with Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus under conditions of near-normoglycaemia compared with age-matched healthy control subjects. Our aim was to determine whether microalbuminuria is associated with endothelial dysfunction in Type I diabetes.
Methods: Endothelial function, measured as post-ischaemic flow-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery using ultrasound, was compared among 17 microalbuminuric and 17 normoalbuminuric diabetic patients, and 17 control subjects. Glyceryl trinitrate-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery was used to measure endothelium-independent function. All diabetic patients were studied at near-normoglycaemia, using insulin and 5 % dextrose infusions to maintain blood glucose between 3.5 and 8.0 mmol/l.
Results: Flow-mediated dilatation was significantly lower in microalbuminuric diabetic patients (3.2 +/- 0.3%) compared with normoalbuminuric diabetic patients (5.4 +/- 0.6%) and control subjects (7.9 +/- 0.6%, p < 0.001). Normoalbuminuric diabetic patients also had significantly lower flow-mediated dilatation than control subjects (p = 0.01). Glyceryl trinitrate mediated dilatation was significantly lower in the microalbuminuric patients compared with the control subjects (11.9 +/- 1.1% vs 20.0 +/- 1.2%, p = 0.001). Albumin excretion rate and glycated haemoglobin showed a significant negative independent correlation with flow-mediated dilatation (both p < 0.05).
Conclusion/interpretation: Type I diabetic patients show endothelial dysfunction at near-normoglycaemia compared with the control subjects, and this abnormality is more marked in diabetic patients with microalbuminuria. Endothelial dysfunction in Type I diabetes is related to the albumin excretion rate and glycaemic control. The presence of endothelial dysfunction in normoalbuminuric diabetic patients suggests it could precede microalbuminuria as an early risk marker for cardiovascular disease.