, Volume 52, Issue 12, pp 2478-2488
Date: 12 Sep 2009

Medial arterial calcification in diabetes and its relationship to neuropathy

Abstract

Calcification of the media of arterial walls is common in diabetes and is particularly associated with distal symmetrical neuropathy. Arterial calcification also complicates chronic kidney disease and is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. The term calcification is not strictly accurate because the morphological changes incorporate those of new bone formation, i.e. ossification. The processes are complex, but are closely related to those involved in bone homeostasis, and it is relevant that calcification of the arterial wall and osteopenia often co-exist. One particular factor linked to the development of arterial calcification is distal symmetrical neuropathy; indeed, it has been suggested that neuropathy explains the distal distribution of arterial calcification in diabetes. It has also been suggested that the link with neuropathy results from loss of neuropeptides, such as calcitonin gene-related peptide, which are inherently protective. The association between distal symmetrical neuropathy and calcification of the arterial wall highlights the fact that neuropathy may be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular mortality.