3-Deoxyglucosone: metabolism, analysis, biological activity, and clinical implication

J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 1999 Aug 6;731(1):23-36. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4347(99)00113-9.


3-Deoxyglucosone (3-DG) is synthesized via the Maillard reaction and the polyol pathway, and is detoxified to 3-deoxyfructose and 2-keto-3-deoxygluconic acid. 3-DG rapidly reacts with protein amino groups to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs) such as imidazolone, pyrraline, N'-(carboxymethyl)lysine and pentosidine, among which imidazolone is the AGE most specific for 3-DG. As demonstrated by using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry or high-performance liquid chromatography, plasma 3-DG levels are markedly increased in diabetes and uremia. Although the plasma 3-DG levels had been controversial, it was clearly demonstrated that its plasma level depends on the deproteinization method by which either free or total 3-DG, presumably bound to proteins, is measured. In diabetes, hyperglycemia enhances the synthesis of 3-DG via the Maillard reaction and the polyol pathway, and thereby leads to its high plasma and erythrocyte levels. In uremia, however, the decreased catabolism of 3-DG, which may be due to the loss of 3-DG reductase activity in the end-stage kidneys, may lead to high plasma 3-DG level. The elevated 3-DG levels in plasma and erythrocytes may promote the formation of AGEs such as imidazolone, as demonstrated by immunohistochemistry and immunochemistry using an anti-imidazolone antibody. Although AGE-modified proteins prepared in vitro exhibit a variety of biological activities, known AGE structures have not yet been demonstrated to show any biological activities. Because 3-DG is potent in the formation of AGEs and has some biological activities, such as cellular toxicity, it may be more important in the development of diabetic and uremic complications than the known AGE structures. By demonstrating that treatment with an aldose reductase inhibitor reduces the erythrocyte levels of 3-DG and AGEs, such as imidazolone, light is shed on the mystery of how aldose reductase inhibitors may prove beneficial in diabetic complications. These evidences suggest that 3-DG plays a principal role in the development of diabetic and uremic complications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Deoxyglucose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxyglucose / metabolism
  • Deoxyglucose / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Maillard Reaction
  • Uremia / metabolism


  • 3-deoxyglucose
  • Deoxyglucose