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Researchers find that antidepressant drug may prevent vascular complications of diabetes

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Antidepressant Drug may prevent vascular complications of Diabetes

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that paroxetine, a drug used to treat depression, may be useful in management of vascular complications of diabetes.

UTMB professor Csaba Szabo, senior author of a paper on the research published online by Diabetes, said they came to these conclusions after analyzing 6766 clinically used drugs and pharmacologically active substances. He added that even they were surprised that paroxetine is an active substance that has an effect that is not related to antidepressant effect, and that this effect is not found in other drugs used to treat depression.

Diabetes Treatment

Diabetes Treatment

The first selection process was to find those active substances which have protective effect against the harmful reactions of hyperglycemia on blood vessels. In diabetes, elevated glucose levels lead to the formation of oxygen free radicals that cause endothelial dysfunction, that is damage of the cells that make up the inner linings of blood vessels. This is one of the main mechanisms by which diabetes produces most of its vascular complications: retinopathy, stroke, myocardial infarction, nephropathy.

During the study, researchers found that paroxetine may prevent ROS damage to endothelial cells due to hyperglycemia in two ways. The first mechanism is by reducing superoxide levels, one of the most powerful antioxidants. The second mechanism is by influencing mitochondria to produce less superoxide. Hyperglycemia increases mitochondrial superoxide production. What is interesting is that paroxetine reduced ROS by influencing mitochondrial superoxide production without altering other mitochondrial processes.

The effects of paroxetine in terms of diabetes complications have been demonstrated by other researchers’ experiments. It was shown that the injection of paroxetine in mice in which diabetes was induced by a substance called streptozotocin, resulted in hypoglycemia. Szabo said the study could be the starting point for the development of therapies for cardiac complications of diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that is characterized by high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia). The incidence of diabetes is increasing and although it is a disease which initially may seem harmless to some, diabetes can become a serious medical condition due to complications that may appear overtime: microangiopathy, neuropathy and renal complications. Patients with diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease because hyperglycemia affects blood vessels (microangiopathy). Higher cardiovascular risk is also given by neuropathy and renal complications not only by microangiophaty. For example, a diabetic patient, due to neuropathy, may not feel pain when he is having a  heart attack and in this way his life expectancy may be significantly decreased. It is therefore very important that a patient with diabetes to control their disease.