Selective Insulin Resistance and the Development of Cardiovascular Diseases in Diabetes: The 2015 Edwin Bierman Award Lecture

The Edwin Bierman Award Lecture is presented in honor of the memory of Edwin L. Bierman, MD, an exemplary scientist, mentor, and leader in the field of diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and atherosclerosis. The award and lecture recognizes a leading scientist in the field of macrovascular complications and contributing risk factors in diabetes. George L. King, MD, of the Section of Vascular Cell Biology and Complications, Dianne Nunnally Hoppes Laboratory for Diabetes Complications, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, received the prestigious award at the American Diabetes Association’s 75th Scientific Sessions, 5–9 June 2015, in Boston, MA. He presented the Edwin Bierman Award Lecture, “Selective Insulin Resistance and the Development of Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetes,” on Sunday, 7 June 2015.

This review is focused on the factors and potential mechanisms that are causing various cardiovascular pathologies. In diabetes, insulin’s actions on the endothelium and other vascular cells have significant influence on systemic metabolisms and the development of cardiovascular pathologies. Our studies showed that insulin receptors on the endothelium are important for insulin transport across the endothelial barrier and mediate insulin’s actions in muscle, heart, fat, and the brain. Insulin actions on the vascular cells are mediated by two pathways involving the actions of either IRS/PI3K/Akt or Grb/Shc/MAPK. Insulin’s activation of IRS/PI3K/Akt results in mostly antiatherogenic actions, as this pathway induces activation of eNOS, the expressions of HO-1 and VEGF, and the reduction of VCAM-1. In contrast, insulin’s activation of the Grb/Shc/MAPK pathway mediates the expressions of ET-1 and PAI-1 and migration and proliferation of contractile cells, which have proatherogenic actions. Elevated levels of glucose, free fatty acids, and inflammatory cytokines due to diabetes and insulin resistance selectively inhibit insulin’s antiatherogenic actions via the IRS/PI3K/Akt pathway. This review provides evidence to support the importance of insulin actions in preventing cardiovascular pathology that can be selectively inhibited via the IRS/PI3K/Akt cascade in diabetes.

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