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Rev Diabet Stud, 2009, 6(4):230-236 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2009.6.230

Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Diabetic Neuropathy

Natalia Vallianou, Angelos Evangelopoulos, Pavlos Koutalas

Department of Internal Medicine, Polykliniki General Hospital, 3 Pireos Str., 10552 Athens, Greece
Address correspondence to: Natalia Vallianou, e-mail: natalia.vallianou@hotmail.com

Manuscript submitted November 13, 2009; resubmitted December 29, 2009; accepted December 30, 2009.

Keywords: diabetes, alpha-lipoic acid, reactive oxygen species, advanced glycation end products, nuclear factor-kappaB, protein kinase C


Diabetic neuropathy presents a major public health problem. It is defined by the symptoms and signs of peripheral nerve dysfunction in diabetic patients, in whom other causes of neuropathy have been excluded. Pathogenetic mechanisms that have been implicated in diabetic neuropathy are: a) increased flux through the polyol pathway, leading to accumulation of sorbitol, a reduction in myo-inositol, and an associated reduced Na+-K+-ATPase activity, and b) endoneurial microvascular damage and hypoxia due to nitric oxide inactivation by increased oxygen free radical activity. Alpha-lipoic acid seems to delay or reverse peripheral diabetic neuropathy through its multiple antioxidant properties. Treatment with alpha-lipoic acid increases reduced glutathione, an important endogenous antioxidant. In clinical trials, 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to improve neuropathic deficits. This review focuses on the relationship of alpha-lipoic acid and auto-oxidative glycosylation. It discusses the impact of alpha-lipoic acid on hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress, and examines the role of alpha-lipoic acid in preventing glycation process and nerve hypoxia.

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