Metabolites, Vol. 11, Pages 655: Physiological and Pathological Roles of Aldose Reductase
Metabolites doi: 10.3390/metabo11100655
Aldose reductase (AR) is an aldo-keto reductase that catalyzes the first step in the polyol pathway which converts glucose to sorbitol. Under normal glucose homeostasis the pathway represents a minor route of glucose metabolism that operates in parallel with glycolysis. However, during hyperglycemia the flux of glucose via the polyol pathway increases significantly, leading to excessive formation of sorbitol. The polyol pathway-driven accumulation of osmotically active sorbitol has been implicated in the development of secondary diabetic complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy. Based on the notion that inhibition of AR could prevent these complications a range of AR inhibitors have been developed and tested; however, their clinical efficacy has been found to be marginal at best. Moreover, recent work has shown that AR participates in the detoxification of aldehydes that are derived from lipid peroxidation and their glutathione conjugates. Although in some contexts this antioxidant function of AR helps protect against tissue injury and dysfunction, the metabolic transformation of the glutathione conjugates of lipid peroxidation-derived aldehydes could also lead to the generation of reactive metabolites that can stimulate mitogenic or inflammatory signaling events. Thus, inhibition of AR could have both salutary and injurious outcomes. Nevertheless, accumulating evidence suggests that inhibition of AR could modify the effects of cardiovascular disease, asthma, neuropathy, sepsis, and cancer; therefore, additional work is required to selectively target AR inhibitors to specific disease states. Despite past challenges, we opine that a more gainful consideration of therapeutic modulation of AR activity awaits clearer identification of the specific role(s) of the AR enzyme in health and disease.
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