Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is commonly associated with both microvascular and macrovascular complications and a strong correlation exists between glycaemic control and the incidence and progression of vascular complications. Pioglitazone, a Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma) ligand indicated for therapy of type T2DM, induces vascular effects that seem to occur independently of glucose lowering.
Methods: By using a hindlimb ischemia murine model, in this study we have found that pioglitazone restores the blood flow recovery and capillary density in ischemic muscle of diabetic mice and that this process is associated with increased expression of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). Importantly, these beneficial effects are abrogated when endogenous Akt is inhibited; furthermore, the direct activation of PPARgamma, with its selective agonist GW1929, does not restore blood flow recovery and capillary density. Finally, an important collateral vessel growth is obtained with combined treatment with pioglitazone and selective PPARgamma inhibitor GW9662.
Conclusion: These data demonstrate that Akt-VEGF pathway is essential for ischemia-induced angiogenic effect of pioglitazone and that pioglitazone exerts this effect via a PPARgamma independent manner.