New research suggests that high blood sugar levels can slow down the production of heart valves. If the cells that turn raw materials into heart valves are given too much glucose, they can’t do their jobs as effectively.
The study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, found that the interstitial cells that create heart valves require a very specific amount of nutrients in order to function properly.
The researchers discovered, however, that feeding too much glucose to the cells slowed them down.
The correlation between diabetes and the calcification of aortic valves was discovered back in 2006, but this is the first study that can explain why. At fault is the metabolic impact of high blood sugars on the cells that produce heart valves.
Peter Kamel, the study’s lead author said, “We’ve seen in a variety of other cell types, like cells in the kidney, the retina and nerves, that high glucose concentrations can directly damage those cells and their activities. That results in patients with diabetes having problems with vision and with their nerves and kidneys as well.
“The results that high glucose concentration can also cause pathologic remodelling by the aortic-valve cells could suggest that diabetes is also directly a cause of aortic-valve disease.”
The researchers suggested that the study only scratches the surface of understanding how the cells interact with excess lipids and sugars.

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