Scientists are one step closer to clarifying the link between diabetes and heart disease, thanks to the findings of a new US study.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis had been analysing the fat (lipid) composition of heart tissue using laboratory mice with diabetes.
They discovered that heart cells lose a crucial lipid during the early stages of diabetes. The lipid, cardiolipin, is responsible for generating heat for the heart.
The results suggest a direct link between heart dysfunction and changes in the levels of cardiolipin. It seems that mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of cells, malfunction when they lose a lot of the lipid.
Richard Gross, one of the authors of the study, said: "Measuring alterations [of cardiolipin] may be a way to tell the severity of heart disease and to evaluate how well therapies work. In addition, these findings suggest potential new therapeutic approaches."
He said he hoped that the findings would enable earlier diagnosis and treatment.