Molecular targets of diabetic vascular complications and potential new drugs

Roberto Da Ros, Roberta Assaloni, Antonio Ceriello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In diabetes, oxidative stress plays a key role in the pathogenesis of vascular complications, and an early step of such damage is considered to be the development of an endothelial dysfunction. Hyperglycemia directly promotes an endothelial dysfunction inducing process of overproduction of superoxide and consequently peroxynitrite, that damages DNA and activates the nuclear enzyme poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. This process, depleting NAD+, slowing glycolsis, ATP formation and electron transport, results in acute endothelial dysfunction in diabetic blood vessels and contributes to the development of diabetic complications. These new findings may explain why classical antioxidants, like vitamin E, that work scavenging already formed toxic oxidation products, have failed to show beneficial effects on diabetic complications, and suggest new and attractive "causal" antioxidant therapy. New, low molecular mass compounds that act as SOD or catalase mimetics or L-propionylcarnitine and lipoic acid, that work as intracellular superoxide scavengers, improving mitochondrial function and reducing DNA damage, may be good candidates for such strategy, and preliminary studies support this hypothesis. This "causal" therapy would also be associated with other promising tools such as LY 333531, PJ34 and FP15, which block protein kinase β isoform, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and peroxynitrite, respectively. It is now evident that, statins, ACE inhibitors, AT-1 blockers, calcium channel blockers and thiazolidinediones have a strong intracellular antioxidant activity, and it has been suggested that many of their beneficial ancillary effects are due to this property. This preventive activity against oxidative stress generation can justify a large utilization and association of this compounds for preventing complications in diabetic patients where antioxidant defences have been shown to be defective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-509
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Drug Targets
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


  • ACE inhibitors
  • ATI receptor inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Diabetic complications
  • Oxidative stress
  • Statins
  • Thiazolidinediones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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