Oxidative stress and stress signaling: menace of diabetic cardiomyopathy

Loren E Wold, Asli F Ceylan-isik, Jun Ren


Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in the diabetic population and is currently one of the leading causes of death in the United States and other industrialized countries. The health care expenses associated with cardiovascular disease are staggering, reaching more than US$350 billion in 2003. The risk factors for cardiovascular disease include high fat/cholesterol levels, alcoholism, smoking, genetics, environmental factors and hypertension, which are commonly used to gauge an individual's risk of cardiovascular disease and to track their progress during therapy. Most recently, these factors have become important in the early prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Oxidative stress, the imbalance between reactive oxygen species production and breakdown by endogenous antioxidants, has been implicated in the onset and progression of cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure and diabetes-associated heart dysfunction (diabetic cardiomyopathy). Antioxidant therapy has shown promise in preventing the development of diabetic heart complications. This review focuses on recent advances in oxidative stress theory and antioxidant therapy in diabetic cardiomyopathy, with an emphasis on the stress signaling pathways hypothesized to be involved. Many of these stress signaling pathways lead to activation of reactive oxygen species, major players in the development and progression of diabetic cardiomyopathy.