ROS Generation by Nonphagocytic NADPH Oxidase: Potential Relevance in Diabetic Nephropathy

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2003 Aug;14(8 Suppl 3):S221-6. doi: 10.1097/01.asn.0000077406.67663.e7.


Oxidative stress has emerged as an important pathogenic factor in the development of long-term complications, such as atherosclerosis and nephropathy, in patients with diabetes. Whereas multiple enzymes and processes can contribute to oxidative stress, recent studies indicate that a multicomponent phagocyte-type NADPH oxidase is a major source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in many nonphagocytic cells, including fibroblasts, vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells, renal mesangial cells, and tubular cells. Under physiologic conditions, nonphagocytic NADPH oxidases have very low-level constitutive activity. However, enzyme activity can be upregulated both acutely and chronically in response to stimuli such as growth factors, cytokines, high glucose, and hyperlipidemia. ROS production by the oxidase may serve a signaling role or may lead to oxidative damage. This article reviews current knowledge of the nonphagocyte-NADPH oxidases at both structural and biochemical levels and discusses the possible role of these enzymes in the pathophysiology of diabetic nephropathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / enzymology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / etiology*
  • Humans
  • NADPH Oxidases / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NADPH Oxidases