NEWS RELEASE: Foundational Study Explores Role of Diet in Diabetes Complications
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes affect the health of the inner lining of blood vessels. People with diabetes often experience complications in the eyes, heart, and other organs because of worsening blood vessel damage over the long term. One of the earliest signs of systemic inflammation in the blood vessels is the increased sticking of immune cells to the inner lining. As inflammation and microvascular damage continues in the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye — the retina — diabetic retinopathy can ensue. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness. A pressing question in diabetes research is how elevated blood levels of sugar, cholesterol, and fat may contribute to blood vessel damage in relation to the diet. A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital set out to determine which components of the Western diet — one rich in sugar, cholesterol and fat — may worsen diabetes complications. The team examined the effects of different dietary fats on the earliest molecular signs of retinal inflammation and damage in an experimental rodent model of type 1 diabetes.