Scientists in Britain have discovered a receptor gene present in the blood vessels of diabetic patients that inhibits the repair of those blood vessels. Under normal conditions, when damaged, blood vessels are able to repair themselves and restore blood flow to an affected area. If you receive a large flesh wound, for example, and micro blood vessels are damaged, the body can gradually regrow blood vessels, restoring blood, and thereby replenishing factors that can further heal the skin. Without an adequate supply of blood, a damaged region won’t heal. This is why diabetic patients need to take very good care of their feet and in many cases must consult a podiatrist on a regular bases for proper foot maintenance. One of the complications of diabetes is nerve damage and death to the lower limbs. If you can’t feel when you stub your toe, you are unlikely to notice whether you have done any damage. If damaged blood vessels aren’t able to allow an adequate supply of blood to a wound, it will not heal, may become infected, leading to gangrene and amputation.
The receptor gene present in diabetics and absent from non diabetic people is called p75NTR. Scientists injected mice with this gene before cutting off blood supply to the sample limb. They compared the results with a control group who had their blood supply cut off to a sample limb who did not receive p75NTR. The mice who received the dose of p75NTR showed inhibited blood vessel regrowth, while the blood vessels showed normal regrowth in the mice that didn’t receive a dose of p75NTR.
This study was funded by the British Heart Foundation and the European Vascular Genomic Network of Excellence and published is published online in Circulation Research.
A copy of the original press release on Eureka Alert.