Clinical implications of oxidative stress and potential role of natural antioxidants in diabetic vascular complications

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Aims: The possible link between hyperglycaemia-induced oxidative stress (OxS) and diabetic complications is suggested by many in vitro studies. However, not much attention has been paid to the clinical evidence supporting this hypothesis, as well as to their possible therapeutic implications. Data synthesis: Some prospective studies show a direct correlation between an increase in OxS biomarkers and the appearance of diabetes complications. This is consistent with the evidence that any acute increase of glycaemia, particularly post-prandial, and hypoglycaemia causes endothelial dysfunction and inflammation, through the generation of an OxS. However, the detection of free radicals is difficult as they are highly reactive molecules with a short half-life. Instead, the metabolites of OxS are measured. Interventional trials with supplemented antioxidants have failed to show any beneficial effects. Conversely, natural foods show very promising results. Conclusions: The "new antioxidant" approach includes the possibility of controlling free radical production and increasing intracellular antioxidant defence, a concept different from the old one, when antioxidant activities implied scavenging the free radicals already produced. A synergistic action in this respect could convincingly be obtained with a balanced 'Mediterranean Diet' (MedD) type. Early intensive glucose control is still the best strategy to avoid OxS and its associated diabetes complications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 7 2015


  • Antioxidants
  • Diabetes
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Vascular complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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