The effect of insulin therapy on the inhibition of atherosclerosis in the alloxan-diabetic rabbit.


The effect of insulin therapy on the inhibition of atherosclerosis in the alloxan-diabetic rabbit.

J Exp Med. 1954 Oct 1;100(4):371-80.

Summary: Experiments were undertaken to ascertain whether the previously demonstrated inhibition of the development of experimental aortic atherosclerosis in alloxan-diabetic rabbits fed cholesterol was due to the injection of alloxan per se or to the existence of the diabetic state produced by alloxan.

Results: It was established that, by treating the diabetic state with insulin, the diabetic state could be ameliorated and the inhibitory effect obviated. It was therefore concluded that the inhibitory phenomenon was not due to the injection of alloxan per se but that it was associated with one or more factors that characterize the alloxan diabetic state in the rabbit and that are reversible by insulin therapy. In the course of the experiment it was demonstrated that the inhibitory effect was apparent in cholesterol-fed diabetic rabbits whether or not their diet was supplemented with vegetable oil. The previously reported metabolic abnormalities of the diabetic animals were confirmed. It was established that suitable treatment of the cholesterol-fed diabetic animals with insulin would bring all the metabolic aberrations, including those of the serum lipids, into reasonably close correspondence with those observed in non-diabetic rabbits fed cholesterol.

We reckon: We’ve known, since the work of Russian scientist Nikolay Anichkov in 1913, that rabbits fed cholesterol rapidly become atherosclerotic and develop cardiovascular disease in a linear relationship – the more cholesterol they ate the faster they became atherosclerotic (unlike humans).

In 1949 it was discovered (Duff & McMillan “The effect of alloxan diabetes on experimental cholesterol atherosclerosis in the rabbit” ) that Rabbits exposed to the chemical alloxan became rapidly diabetic, but they appeared to be protected against the progression of atherosclerosis when fed cholesterol.

In 1953 it was discovered (Cook “Mechanism of alloxan protection in experimental Atherosclerosis“) that it was only the absence of insulin in the diabetic rabbits that protected them against atherosclerosis in an otherwise highly atherosclerotic milieu.  In other words insulin is necessary for blood vessels to become atherosclerotic.

In 1961 it was shown in dogs that ( Effect of intra-arterial insulin on tissue cholesterol and fatty acids in alloxan-diabetic dogs) insulin also causes atherosclerosis – and is therefore sufficient for atherosclerosis.

This final study shows that when you protect a rabbit against atherosclerosis by preventing it from making insulin AND then feed it a diet that reliably causes atherosclerosis not only is it protected from progression of the disease, but if you subsequently give it intravenous insulin it then proceeds to develop the disease.

Apparently we have known since the 60s that insulin causes cardiovascular disease, and without insulin it is not possible to develop the disease.  Which begs the question why are we so focused on treating heart disease with statins – they can apparently increase type 2 diabetes in 10% of the population which will raise insulin.

Notable Replies

  1. So much has been reported about insulin in many disease states that I am a bit apprehensive about the high protein version of Low Carb.

    Insulin sensitive guys may do alright on it, just as some do on carbs but many may not have to take it for granted.

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