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Researchers Uncover Possible Reason behind Poor Wound Healing in Diabetes

A molecule inhibiting blood vessel growth in patients with diabetes, PGC-1 alpha, may be the culprit….

Investigators from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, have discovered a molecule called PGC-1 alpha that may be responsible for poor wound healing in patients with diabetes. Poor wound healing is one of the leading causes of amputation in patients with diabetes.

PGC-1 alpha’s role in the body is to sense muscle injury and aid in healing by regulating angiogenesis. However, researchers have discovered that the molecule has the opposite effect in diabetic patients. An investigation of PGC-1 alpha’s role in diabetes revealed that high levels of the molecule are induced by high blood sugars. PGC-1 alpha is critical in the regulation of angiogenesis in muscle cells but the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels are the key cells responsible for angiogenesis. PGC-1 alpha in excess was found to be harmful to endothelial cells preventing wounds from healing.

Practice Pearls:
  • High levels of PGC-1 alpha are induced by high blood sugars.
  • PGC-1 alpha is harmful to endothelial cells, responsible for growth and healing of blood vessels in diabetic patients, which leads to poor wound healing.
  • The FDA should be cautious in approving medications that target PGC-1 alpha. 

Cell Metabolism, Volume 19, Issue 2, 246-258, 4 February 2014