Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2001; 52 (3) Jun: 175–183
Morcos M, Borcea V, Isermann B, Gehrke S, Ehret T, Henkels M, Schiekofer S,
Hofmann M, Amiral J, Tritschler H, Ziegler R, Wahl P, Nawroth PP
Department of Internal Medicine I,
University of Heidelberg,
Bergheimerstr. 58, 69115
Oxidative stress plays a central role in the pathogenesis and progression of late microangiopathic complications (diabetic nephropathy) in diabetes mellitus. Previous studies suggested that treatment of diabetic patients with the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid reduce oxidative stress and urinary albumin excretion. In this prospective, open and non-randomized study, the effect of alpha-lipoic acid on the progression of endothelial cell damage and the course of diabetic nephropathy, as assessed by measurement of plasma thrombomodulin and urinary albumin concentration (UAC), was evaluated in 84 patients with diabetes mellitus over 18 months. Forty-nine patients (34 with Type 1 diabetes, 15 with Type 2 diabetes) had no antioxidant treatment and served as a control group. Thirty-five patients (20 with Type 1 diabetes, 15 with Type 2 diabetes) were treated with 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid per day. Only patients with an urinary albumin concentration <200 mg/l were included into the study. After 18 months of follow up, the plasma thrombomodulin level increased from 35.9+/-9.5 to 39.7+/-9.9 ng/ml (P<0.05) in the control group. In the alpha-lipoic acid treated group the plasma thrombomodulin level decreased from 37.5+/-16.2 to 30.9+/-14.5 ng/ml (P<0.01). The UAC increased in patients without alpha-lipoic acid treatment from 21.2+/-29.5 to 36.9+/-60.6 ng/l (P<0.05), but was unchanged with alpha-lipoic acid. It is postulated that the significant decrease in plasma thrombomodulin and failure of UAC to increase observed in the alpha-lipoic acid treated group is due to antioxidative effects of alpha-lipoic acid, and if so that oxidative stress plays a central role in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. Furthermore, progression of the disease might be inhibited by antioxidant drugs. A placebo-controlled study is needed.