Diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels, even preventing the body from making new ones to take the place of damaged ones. What tool do we have on our side to counter this effect? Physical exercise ... as emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the FASEB Journal thanks to the work of an American team from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University (Abdelsaid et al, FASEB Journal, 2022).
Type 2 diabetes and damage to the cardiovascular system
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that generally affects the adult population and is characterized by an increase in blood glucose levels. What has been observed is due to a decrease in insulin production and / or to the fact that the insulin produced is not effective in inducing the entry of glucose into cells as an energy source. The glucose thus remains in the blood flow and this determines an increase in blood glucose values. Type 2 diabetes can cause, in the long term, various damage to the eyes, kidneys, nervous system, heart and blood vessels. In particular, precisely with regard to blood vessels, it has been observed that type 2 diabetes can damage them. Not only that, type 2 diabetes also blocks the normal physiological processes by which our body creates new blood vessels in case of damage to these parts of the circulatory system. The research we are talking about today has focused precisely on the beneficial effects of physical exercise as regards the health of blood vessels in the event of an increase in blood sugar. But let's understand better.
How physical exercise counteracts the damage of type 2 diabetes, the study
Exosomes are complexes of molecules, shaped like a bag, which carry information to cells, like real bottles containing a message. Among the various information they can carry, exosomes are also responsible for delivering a particular protein, called ATP7A, which has the function of setting in motion the process of angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels. Well, American scientists have observed that this protein, ATP7A, is reduced in the case of type 2 diabetes, and this explains why in the case of this disease the blood vessels are damaged and not replaced. But American scientists have also observed more. In particular, it was found that exercise increases the amount of this protein in the exosomes that are directed to the cells of the endothelium, which is the lining of blood vessels and which plays an essential role in the formation of new vessels. In addition, during physical activity, the muscles work like a pump and release larger quantities of exosomes into the circulation. Physical activity is therefore really beneficial and rejuvenating for our blood vessels. The benefits were observed both after two weeks of constant physical activity, such as brisk walking or running, and after a single 45-minute session of more intense exercise. Not only that, exercise has also been able to increase the levels of SOD3, or extracellular superoxide dismutase, with an antioxidant action against free radicals. On the other hand, SOD3 decreases with age and with conditions such as type 2 diabetes. In addition, it has been observed that SOD3 needs the protein ATP7A to be activated and that, during exercise, this antioxidant reaches in greater quantities endothelial cells, protecting them from the damage that a possible increase in blood sugar can cause.
Today we saw further evidence of how lifestyle can affect our health. A brisk walk, a swim, a bike ride or a more intense session in the gym are all great ideas for keeping us fit, fighting overweight, improving mood but also protecting our blood vessels, even if in the presence of type 2 diabetes.