In experimental and human diabetic nephropathy (DN), it has been shown that advanced glycation end products (AGEs), in particular, carboxymethyl-lysine and pentosidine, accumulate with malondialdehyde in glomerular lesions in relation to disease severity and in the presence of an upregulated receptor for AGE (RAGE) in podocytes. Toxic effects of AGEs result from structural and functional alterations in plasma and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, in particular, from cross-linking of proteins and interaction of AGEs with their receptors and/or binding proteins. In mesangial and endothelial cells, the AGE-RAGE interaction caused enhanced formation of oxygen radicals with subsequent activation of nuclear factor-kappaB and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha), growth factors (transforming growth factor-beta1 [TGF-beta1], insulin-like growth factor-1), and adhesion molecules (vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, intercellular adhesion molecule-1). In tubular cells, incubation with AGE albumin was followed by stimulation of the mitogen-activating protein (MAP) kinase pathway and its downstream target, the activating protien-1 (AP-1) complex, TGF-beta1 overexpression, enhanced protein kinase C activity, decreased cell proliferation, and impaired protein degradation rate, in part caused by decreased cathepsin activities. The pathogenic relevance of AGEs was further verified by in vivo experiments in euglycemic rats and mice by the parenteral administration of AGE albumin, leading in the glomeruli to TGF-beta1 overproduction, enhanced gene expression of ECM proteins, and morphological lesions similar to those of DN. Evidence for the pathogenic relevance of AGEs in DN also comes from experimental studies in which the formation and/or action of AGEs was modulated by aminoguanidine, OPB-9195, pyridoxamine, soluble RAGEs, serine protease trypsin, and antioxidants, resulting in improved cell and/or renal function.