Objective Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy is a common but underestimated diabetes-related disorder. Associations between cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction and subclinical inflammation, both risk factors of diabetic comorbidities and mortality, have been proposed in non-diabetic populations, while data for type 1 and type 2 diabetes are conflicting. Our aim was to investigate associations between inflammation-related biomarkers and cardiac autonomic dysfunction in patients with diabetes.
Methods We characterised the associations between seven biomarkers of subclinical inflammation and cardiac autonomic dysfunction based on heart rate variability and cardiovascular autonomic reflex tests (CARTs) in 161 individuals with type 1 and 352 individuals with type 2 diabetes (time since diagnosis of diabetes <1 year). Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, anthropometric, metabolic and lifestyle factors, medication and cardiovascular comorbidities.
Results In individuals with type 2 diabetes, higher serum interleukin (IL)-18 was associated with lower vagal activity (p≤0.015 for association with CARTs), whereas higher levels of total and high-molecular-weight adiponectin showed associations with very low frequency power, an indicator of reduced sympathetic activity (p≤0.014). Higher levels of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 were associated with indicators of both lower vagal (p=0.025) and sympathetic (p=0.008) tone, soluble E-selectin with one indicator of lower vagal activity (p=0.047). Serum C-reactive protein and IL-6 were also related to cardiac autonomic dysfunction, but these associations were explained by confounding factors. No consistent associations were found in individuals with type 1 diabetes.
Conclusions Biomarkers of inflammation were differentially associated with diminished cardiac autonomic dysfunction in recent-onset type 2 diabetes.
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