Research Article| Volume 49, ISSUE 2, SUPPLEMENT 1, 27-29, February 2000

Oxidative stress and glycemic regulation

  • Author Footnotes
    1 From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy.
    Antonio Ceriello
    Address reprint requests to Antonio Ceriello, MD, Chair of Internal Medicine, University of Udine, P. le S. Maria della Misericordia 33100 Udine, Italy.
    1 From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy.
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy.
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      Oxidative stress is an acknowledged pathogenetic mechanism in diabetic complications. Hyperglycemia is a widely known cause of enhanced free radical concentration, whereas oxidative stress involvement in glycemic regulation is still debated. Glucose transport is a cascade of events starting from the interaction of insulin with its own receptor at the plasma membrane and ending with intracellular glucose metabolism. In this complex series of events, each step plays an important role and can be inhibited by a negative effect of oxidative stress. Several studies show that an acute increase in the blood glucose level may impair the physiological homeostasis of many systems in living organisms. The mechanisms through which acute hyperglycemia exerts these effects may be identified in the production of free radicals. It has been suggested that insulin resistance may be accompanied by intracellular production of free radicals. In adipocytes cultured in vitro, insulin increases the production of hydrogen peroxide, which has been shown to mimic the action of insulin. These data allow us to hypothesize that a vicious circle between hyperinsulinemia and free radicals could be operating: insulin resistance might cause elevated plasma free radical concentrations, which, in turn, might be responsible for a deterioration of insulin action, with hyperglycemia being a contributory factor. Data supporting this hypothesis are available. Vitamin E improves insulin action in healthy, elderly, and non-insulin-dependent diabetic subjects. Similar results can be obtained by vitamin C administration.
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