TUESDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with diabetic cardiomyopathy, treatment with angiotensin type 1 receptor antagonists may help prevent cardiac fibrosis and failure, according to the results of an animal study published in the March issue of Diabetes.

Dirk Westermann, M.D., of the Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany, and colleagues injected mice with streptozotocin, which induced diabetes and diabetic cardiomyopathy. They studied the effects of the angiotensin type 1 receptor antagonist irbesartan.

The researchers found that irbesartan improved the dysregulation of the cardiac extracellular matrix, normalized matrix metalloproteinase activity, reduced cardiac transforming growth factor-beta and interleukin 1-beta levels, and decreased cardiac fibrosis. Despite the presence of severe hyperglycemia, these changes were associated with improved left ventricular function, the report indicates.

"Since it is possible that sub-therapeutic insulin administration to streptozotocin-injected mice may be the better model for human diabetic cardiomyopathy, the influence of insulin treatment on the effect of angiotensin receptor blockers has to be evaluated," the authors conclude.

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