To elucidate the significance of plasma levels of endothelin (ET) and von Willebrand factor (vWF) as possible markers for endothelial dysfunction in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).
Plasma levels of ET and vWE were determined in 22 NIDDM patients with or without retinopathy and 10 normal control subjects.
The plasma levels of immunoreactive endothelin (irET) and vWF in NIDDM patients were 0.78 ± 0.06 pmol/1 and 218.3 ± 18.4%, respectively, which represented significant (P < 0.05, P < 0.01, respectively) differences from the values in the control group (0.50 ± 0.06 pmol/1 and 139.1 ± 11.1%, respectively, n = 10). However, when the diabetic patients were divided into two groups according to the presence or absence of diabetic retinopathy, the plasma levels of irET and vWF in the NIDDM patients with retinopathy were significantly higher (1.01 ± 0.07 pmol/1 and 283.0 ± 21.4%, respectively, n = 12) compared with the control group and NIDDM patients without retinopathy (0.59 ± 0.06 pmol/1 and 164.3 ± 17.0%, respectively). Plasma levels of irET showed a significant (P < 0.01) positive correlation with the levels of vWF.
These data strongly suggest that increased plasma irET reflects the endothelial cell damage in NIDDM.