Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Aids Diabetes

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June 20, 2002

Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Aids Diabetes

CHICAGO— Statins, drugs usually prescribed for high cholesterol, have been found to slow diabetes-related kidney damage, according to a Northwestern University research study published in the June 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The study found that statins affect the activity of a protein responsible for controlling the cycle of cell growth and division rather than acting by lowering lipids, said lead authors Farhad R. Danesh, MD, assistant professor of nephrology, and Yashpal S. Kanwar, MD, Paul E. Steiner Professor of Pathology at The Feinberg School of Medicine.

This research shows that statins slow diabetes-related kidney damage through a new mechanism and illuminates a novel pathway involved in kidney damage, Drs. Danesh and Kanwar said.

Individuals with diabetes are unable to metabolize excess glucose. Resulting high levels of glucose can cause organ damage, particularly in nerve cells and cells in the retina and kidney, where they speed up the rate of cell division.

Using cells cultured from rat kidney, the authors first simulated the high glucose conditions of a diabetic’s kidney, then treated the cells with a statin and conducted tests to determine the proteins that were affected by the drug.

Co-investigators on the study were Mehran M. Sadeghi, Nail Amro, Carrie Phillips, Lixia Zeng and Sun Lin.

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