Diabetes and mitochondrial function: role of hyperglycemia and oxidative stress

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006 Apr 15;212(2):167-78. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2006.01.003. Epub 2006 Feb 20.


Hyperglycemia resulting from uncontrolled glucose regulation is widely recognized as the causal link between diabetes and diabetic complications. Four major molecular mechanisms have been implicated in hyperglycemia-induced tissue damage: activation of protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms via de novo synthesis of the lipid second messenger diacylglycerol (DAG), increased hexosamine pathway flux, increased advanced glycation end product (AGE) formation, and increased polyol pathway flux. Hyperglycemia-induced overproduction of superoxide is the causal link between high glucose and the pathways responsible for hyperglycemic damage. In fact, diabetes is typically accompanied by increased production of free radicals and/or impaired antioxidant defense capabilities, indicating a central contribution for reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the onset, progression, and pathological consequences of diabetes. Besides oxidative stress, a growing body of evidence has demonstrated a link between various disturbances in mitochondrial functioning and type 2 diabetes. Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and decreases in mtDNA copy number have been linked to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. The study of the relationship of mtDNA to type 2 diabetes has revealed the influence of the mitochondria on nuclear-encoded glucose transporters, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, and nuclear-encoded uncoupling proteins (UCPs) in beta-cell glucose toxicity. This review focuses on a range of mitochondrial factors important in the pathogenesis of diabetes. We review the published literature regarding the direct effects of hyperglycemia on mitochondrial function and suggest the possibility of regulation of mitochondrial function at a transcriptional level in response to hyperglycemia. The main goal of this review is to include a fresh consideration of pathways involved in hyperglycemia-induced diabetic complications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Glucose / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Uncoupling Agents / metabolism


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Glucose