Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with clustering of cardiovascular risk factors that may greatly increase individuals' risk of developing coronary artery disease. Type 2 diabetes is believed to impair coronary function. However, its impact on the vasomotor function of coronary resistance vessels in humans is still debated. Reduced, preserved or even augmented dilations of coronary arterioles have been reported in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, recent studies have suggested that reactive oxygen species (ROS), particularly hydrogen peroxide, may compensate for the loss of the vasodilatory function of coronary microvessels during disease development. Recent interventional clinical trials have yielded largely negative results, and there has even been some suggestion of harm caused by attempts to reduce ROS. Thus, it is possible that interference with ROS-related signaling might paradoxically temper the function of coronary microvessels, predisposing patients to myocardial ischemia. In this review, we aim to highlight current findings supporting a potential role for ROS in preserving coronary arteriolar dilation in type 2 diabetes mellitus.
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