Diabetes-induced micro- and macrovascular complications are the major causes of morbidity and mortality in diabetic patients. While hyperglycemia is a key factor for the pathogenesis of diabetic microvascular complications, it is only one of the multiple factors capable of increasing the risk of macrovascular complications. Hyperglycemia induces vascular damage probably through a single common pathway - increased intracellular oxidative stress - linking four major mechanisms, namely the polyol pathway, advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) formation, the protein kinase C (PKC)-diacylglycerol (DAG) and the hexosamine pathways. In addition, in conditions of insulin resistance, i.e., preceding the onset of type 2 diabetes, the phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway is selectively inhibited, while the mitogen activated protein (MAP)-kinase pathway remains largely unaffected, thus allowing compensatory hyperinsulinemia to elicit pro-atherogenic events in vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells, including increased cell proliferation, and the expression of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, as well as of proinflammatory cytokines and endothelial adhesion molecules.
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