Diabetic blood clots are caused by a mechanosensitive protein


Diabetes has many complications, and one of them is blood clots in the blood vessels. It is believed that 80% of deaths in type 2 diabetes are somehow related to blood clots: they disrupt the blood supply to organs, and they work worse and worse. But why do blood clots occur in diabetes at all? It is usually said that it is all about the proteins of damaged blood vessels. With diabetes, the level of glucose in the blood rises, and then other biochemical parameters change, and this does not go away without a trace for the vessels. The blood coagulation system, obviously, must react rapidly to damage to the vascular walls, and even if the proteins from the vessels simply float in the blood, and there is no real damage, a thrombus will still form.

But there is another mechanism of thrombus formation in diabetes, which in Science Translational Medicine described by staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University. Researchers studied how chemical changes in the blood of people with diabetes affect cells. It turned out that in many patients (although not all), elevated glucose levels stimulate the activity of the PIEZO1 protein. This is a receptor for mechanical pressure, and we talked a lot about it in connection with last year’s Nobel Prize, which was given just for the discovery of the PIEZO1 and PIEZO2 proteins. We said that these receptors are needed not only to feel touch – they play an important role in the development of the embryo, in the control of breathing, blood pressure, and immunity.

And PIEZO is also involved in blood coagulation: the activation of PIEZO1 on erythrocytes, platelets and immune cells of neutrophils leads to the fact that these cells will more readily give a signal to form a thrombus. If you lower the blood glucose level, or suppress the activity of PIEZO1 in one way or another, blood clots will form significantly less. Perhaps, it would be worth thinking about some clinical means that would make it possible to purposefully suppress the thrombosis associated with the mechanosensitive protein PIEZO1 in diabetic patients.


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