Get access

Does interference with the renin–angiotensin system protect against diabetes? Evidence and mechanisms


Nynke J. van der Zijl, MD, Diabetes Center, Department of Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Agents interfering with the renin–angiotensin system (RAS) were consistently shown to lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), as compared to other antihypertensive drugs, in hypertensive high-risk populations. The mechanisms underlying this protective effect of RAS blockade using angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin-receptor blockers on glucose metabolism are not fully understood. In this article, we will review the evidence from randomized controlled trials and discuss the proposed mechanisms as to how RAS interference may delay the onset of T2DM. In particular, as T2DM is characterized by β-cell dysfunction and obesity-related insulin resistance, we address the mechanisms that underlie RAS blockade-induced improvement in β-cell function and insulin sensitivity.