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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2006 June;97(3):241-62

language: English

Diabetic nephropathy: from mechanisms to rational therapies

Giunti S., Barit D., Cooper M. E.

Baker Heart Research Institute Diabetic and Metabolic Division Danielle Alberti Memorial Centre for Diabetic Complications Melbourne, Australia


Diabetic nephropathy is a microvascular complication of diabetes. Specifically, it represents a major cause of morbidity and mortality in type 1 and type 2 diabetic subjects and has become the leading cause of end-stage renal disease in the Western world. Diabetic nephropathy appears to develop as a result of interactions between environmental insults and genetic susceptibility. Indeed, hyperglycemia is a clinical prerequisite for this complication, but it should be noted that only a subset of diabetic subjects will ultimately develop nephropathy. Over recent decades, cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diabetic nephropathy have been increasingly delineated. In particular, diabetic kidney disease appears to occur as a result of the deleterious effects of both metabolic and hemodynamic insults, which at the cellular level lead to the activation of intracellular signaling pathways and transcription factors, thus triggering the production/release of cytokines, chemo-kines and growth factors, which mediate and/or amplify the renal damage. This ultimately leads to the structural and functional features characteristic of diabetic kidney disease. In the present review we summarize the evidence for key mediators of injury, which appear to be excellent treatment targets in diabetic nephropathy. The targets include various vasoactive hormones, the biochemical processes of the advanced glycation and protein kinase C. Furthermore, we review current and potentially new renoprotective therapies in the setting of diabetes.

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