Insulin resistance affects the vascular endothelium, and contributes to systemic insulin resistance by directly impairing the actions of insulin to redistribute blood flow as part of its normal actions driving muscle glucose uptake. Impaired vascular function is a component of the insulin resistance syndrome, and is a feature of type 2 diabetes. On this basis, the vascular endothelium has emerged as a therapeutic target where the intent is to improve systemic metabolic state by improving vascular function. We review the available literature presenting studies in humans, evaluating the effects of metabolically targeted and vascular targeted therapies on insulin action and systemic metabolism. Therapies that improve systemic insulin resistance exert strong concurrent effects to improve vascular function and vascular insulin action. RAS-acting agents and statins have widely recognized beneficial effects on vascular function but have not uniformly produced the hoped-for metabolic benefits. These observations support the notion that systemic metabolic benefits can arise from therapies targeted at the endothelium, but improving vascular insulin action does not result from all treatments that improve endothelium-dependent vasodilation. A better understanding of the mechanisms of insulin's actions in the vascular wall will advance our understanding of the specificity of these responses, and allow us to better target the vasculature for metabolic benefits.
- Nitric oxide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism