Medicine (St Vincent's) - Theses

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    The role of the coronary vasculature and myocardium in the pathogenesis of diabetic cardiomyopathy
    Jenkins, Mathew James ( 2012)
    The prevalence of diabetes is increasing worldwide. This poses a significant threat to human health, as diabetes is associated with an increased risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease. In particular, diabetic patients develop diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM), characterised by impaired cardiac muscle contraction and relaxation, leading to left ventricle (LV) muscle stiffness and congestive heart failure. Previous studies suggest that changes in the coronary vasculature and cardiac subcellular function may account for the progression to DCM, however as yet this has not been assessed in vivo. Synchrotron radiation (SR) now makes possible novel imaging and diffraction techniques, to investigate the role these mechanisms play in the early development of DCM, where clinical intervention is most efficacious. To assess coronary function in vivo we validated the use of SR imaging to detect and quantify regional differences in resistance microvessel calibre. In type 1 diabetic rodents we found that although endothelium-dependent and –independent vasodilatory responses in individual coronary vessels are preserved, following inhibition of NO and PGI2 production, there is evidence of localised focal and segmental constrictions. This demonstrates, for the first time, localised coronary microvascular endothelial dysfunction in early-stage type 1 diabets (T1D). Contributing to this diabetic coronary impairment is the RhoA/Rho-kinase (ROCK) pathway, which had previously been shown to play a role in endothelial dysfunction and coronary vasospasm. Our data further support a role for ROCK in early diabetic coronary dysfunction, as following nitric oxide synthase/cyclooxygenase blockade, ROCK inhibition greatly reduced regional segmental constrictions and completely alleviated persistent focal stenoses in diabetic animals. Together, these findings provide strong evidence that early vascular dysfunction may contribute to the development of DCM. In addition, although characterised by global cardiac impairment, the role subcellular changes in the sarcomere play in DCM progression is not known. SR, as a source for small-angle X-ray diffraction, allows the assessment of cardiomyocyte cross-bridge dynamics (CB) and myosin interfilament lattice spacing in situ and in real time. Using SR, our data shows that in early T1D, CB dynamics are abnormal in the beating hearts and this is directly related to impaired LV function. The change in CB dynamics is caused by myosin head displacement from actin filaments, but notably is not related to estimated sarcomere length or myofilament order. SR X-ray diffraction thus provides a robust method to assess cardiac CB dynamics in situ and for the first time we provide evidence that impairment in the regulation of myosin head extension in T1D hearts contributes to DCM. Currently 85-90% of diabetics have T2D and it is therefore critical that these coronary microvascular and cardiac subcellular impairments in T1D are explored in T2D. As such, rodent models which account for the environmental factors important in the human development of DCM are required. We conducted a comprehensive characterisation of cardiac function and structure in diet-induced rodent models of obesity, insulin resistance and T2D, and uncovered mild systolic dysfunction in fructose fed and mild diastolic dysfunction in high fat fed rodents. Furthermore, we demonstrated mild contractile dysfunction in high fat fed low dose streptozotocin rodents. The characterisation of only mild cardiac dysfunction, in spite of the lengthy time course used, suggests further refinement is required to achieve more robust DCM models. In summary, through the validation of novel SR imaging and diffraction techniques our data has confirmed a role for coronary microvascular dysfunction, via the ROCK pathway and cardiac subcellular impairment, via reduced myosin head extension, in the development of DCM. In addition, further studies investigating rodent models of T2D and DCM are required. These findings provide a strong basis for the future development of novel therapies aimed at preventing and/or reversing the decline in cardiac function associated with diabetes.