Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is associated with generalized vascular dysfunction characterized by increases in large artery stiffness, endothelial dysfunction, and vascular smooth muscle dysfunction. Sodium glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) represent the most recently approved class of oral medications for the treatment of T2D, and have been shown to reduce cardiovascular and overall mortality. Although it is currently unclear how SGLT2i decrease cardiovascular risk, an improvement in vascular function is one potential mechanism. The aim of the current study was to examine if dapagliflozin, a widely prescribed STLT2i, improves generalized vascular dysfunction in type 2 diabetic mice. In light of several studies demonstrating a bi-directional relation between orally ingested medications and the gut microbiota, a secondary aim was to determine the effects of dapagliflozin on the gut microbiota.
Male diabetic mice (Db, n = 24) and control littermates (Con; n = 23) were randomized to receive either a standard diet or a standard diet containing dapagliflozin (60 mg dapagliflozin/kg diet; 0.006%) for 8 weeks. Arterial stiffness was assessed by aortic pulse wave velocity; endothelial function and vascular smooth muscle dysfunction were assessed by dilatory responses to acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside, respectively.
Compared to untreated diabetic mice, diabetic mice treated with dapagliflozin displayed significantly lower arterial stiffness (Db = 469 cm/s vs. Db + dapa = 435 cm/s, p < 0.05), and improvements in endothelial dysfunction (area under the curve [AUC] Db = 57.2 vs. Db + dapa = 117.0, p < 0.05) and vascular smooth muscle dysfunction (AUC, Db = 201.7 vs. Db + dapa = 285.5, p < 0.05). These vascular improvements were accompanied by reductions in hyperglycemia and circulating markers of inflammation. The microbiota of Db and Con mice were distinctly different, and dapagliflozin treatment was associated with minor alterations in gut microbiota composition, particularly in Db mice, although these effects did not conclusively mediate the improvements in vascular function.
Dapagliflozin treatment improves arterial stiffness, endothelial dysfunction and vascular smooth muscle dysfunction, and subtly alters microbiota composition in type 2 diabetic mice. Collectively, the improvements in generalized vascular function may represent an important mechanism underlying the cardiovascular benefits of SGLT2i treatment.