The prevalence of diabetes has dramatically increased worldwide due to the vast increase in the obesity rate. Diabetic nephropathy is one of the major complications of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and it is currently the leading cause of end-stage renal disease. Hyperglycemia is the driving force for the development of diabetic nephropathy. It is well known that hyperglycemia increases the production of free radicals resulting in oxidative stress. While increases in oxidative stress have been shown to contribute to the development and progression of diabetic nephropathy, the mechanisms by which this occurs are still being investigated. Historically, diabetes was not thought to be an immune disease; however, there is increasing evidence supporting a role for inflammation in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Inflammatory cells, cytokines, and profibrotic growth factors including transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-18 (IL-18), and cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) have all been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy via increased vascular inflammation and fibrosis. The stimulus for the increase in inflammation in diabetes is still under investigation; however, reactive oxygen species are a primary candidate. Thus, targeting oxidative stress-inflammatory cytokine signaling could improve therapeutic options for diabetic nephropathy. The current review will focus on understanding the relationship between oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokines in diabetic nephropathy to help elucidate the question of which comes first in the progression of diabetic nephropathy, oxidative stress, or inflammation.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.