Levels of vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF) are regulated in a complex network of adipokines, glucose control, and low grade inflammation together with activated platelets, leucocytes, and endothelial dysfunction. Increased levels of VEGF are associated with enhanced angiogenesis and impaired repair mechanisms of vascular lesions in endorgans. Little is known about the interaction of systemic VEGF levels with quality of diabetes control, biomarkers of inflammation, and diabetic nephropathy. Moreover, it is unclear, whether serum and plasma VEGF levels are similarly suited to reflect risk associated with VEGF.In this case control study, we analyzed these parameters in serum and plasma of age and sex matched controls without diabetes (n=99) and type 2 diabetes (n=302). Serum VEGF-A was significantly increased in patients with T2DM while plasma levels were in the same range as for controls. Individual levels varied in a wide range. Serum levels were 4.9 times higher in controls and 7.3 times higher in T2DM as compared to plasma levels. T2DM was associated with significantly higher levels of hsCRP, ALAT, and albumin/creatinine ratio. When calculated for tertiles of HbA1c, we observed a highly significant increase from tertile one to the upper tertile for serum VEGF-A but not for plasma VEGF-A. Correlation analysis revealed a significant relationship between VEGF-A, HbA1c, inflammation, and diabetic nephropathy. Our results indicate that increased VEGF-A levels in T2DM significantly depend on quality of HbA1c control. Serum levels of VEGF-A, with a strong contribution of platelet derived VEGF, better reflect the glycemic burden than plasma levels of VEGF-A. Mechanistic studies are needed to explore links to inflammation and diabetic nephropathy.
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