Advanced glycation end products: a Nephrologist's perspective

Am J Kidney Dis. 2000 Mar;35(3):365-80. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(00)70189-2.


Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are a heterogeneous group of molecules that accumulate in plasma and tissues with advancing age, diabetes, and renal failure. There is emerging evidence that AGEs are potential uremic toxins and may have a role in the pathogenesis of vascular and renal complications associated with diabetes and aging. AGEs are formed when a carbonyl of a reducing sugar condenses with a reactive amino group in target protein. These toxic molecules interact with specific receptors and elicit pleiotropic responses. AGEs accelerate atherosclerosis through cross-linking of proteins, modification of matrix components, platelet aggregation, defective vascular relaxation, and abnormal lipoprotein metabolism. In vivo and in vitro studies indicate that AGEs have a vital role in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy and the progression of renal failure. The complications of normal aging, such as loss of renal function, Alzheimer's disease, skin changes, and cataracts, may also be mediated by progressive glycation of long-lived proteins. AGEs accumulate in renal failure as a result of decreased excretion and increased generation resulting from oxidative and carbonyl stress of uremia. AGE-modified beta(2)-microglobulin is the principal pathogenic component of dialysis-related amyloidosis in patients undergoing dialysis. Available dialytic modalities are not capable of normalizing AGE levels in patients with end-stage renal disease. A number of reports indicated that restoration of euglycemia with islet-cell transplantation normalized and prevented further glycosylation of proteins. Aminoguanidine (AGN), a nucleophilic compound, not only decreases the formation of AGEs but also inhibits their action. A number of studies have shown that treatment with AGN improves neuropathy and delays the onset of retinopathy and nephropathy. N-Phenacylthiazolium bromide is a prototype AGE cross-link breaker that reacts with and can cleave covalent AGE-derived protein cross-links. Thus, there is an exciting possibility that the complications of diabetes, uremia, and aging may be prevented with these novel agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / adverse effects*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / pharmacology
  • Glycosylation
  • Guanidines / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects
  • Renal Insufficiency / physiopathology*


  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Guanidines
  • pimagedine