Background: Diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM) is a significant risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). In a previous microarray study of internal mammary arteries from patients with and without T2DM, we observed several elastin-related genes with altered mRNA-expression in diabetic patients, namely matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2), lysyl oxidase (LOX) and elastin itself. In this study we investigate whether the serum concentrations of elastin-related proteins correlate to signs of CVD in patients with T2DM.

Methods: Blood samples from 302 type 2 diabetic patients were analysed for MMP-2, LOX, and the elastin degradation products ELM and ELM2. The results were investigated for correlations to signs of CVD in different vascular territories, as determined by myocardial perfusion scintigraphy, carotid artery thickness and ankle-brachial blood pressure index.

Results: T2DM patients with peripheral arterial disease (low ankle-brachial index) (PAD) display higher levels of MMP-2 and ELM compared to patients without PAD. However, none of the proteins or degradation products correlated with myocardial ischemia or a combined measure of CVD-signs, including myocardial ischemia, increased carotid thickness and decreased ankle-brachial blood pressure.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the diabetic environment affects the circulating amounts of MMP-2 and ELM in patients with PAD. However, the same connection could not be seen in diabetic patients with CVD broadly identified in three vascular territories. LOX and ELM-2 did not correlate to any type of CVD. Overall, serum levels of elastin-related molecules are only remotely related to CVD in type 2 diabetes.

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