Aldose reductase inhibitors of plant origin

Phytother Res. 2014 Mar;28(3):317-33. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5000. Epub 2013 May 15.


Diabetic complications are attributed to hyperglycaemic condition which is in turn associated with the polyol pathway and advanced glycation end products. Aldose reductase (AR) is the principal enzyme of polyol pathway which plays a vital role in the development of diabetic complications. AR inhibitory activity can be screened by both in vitro and in vivo methods. In vitro assays for AR enzyme are further classified on the basis of the source of enzyme such as rat lens, rat kidney, cataracted human eye lens, bovine eyes and human recombinant AR enzymes, whereas the in vivo model is based on the determination of lens galactitol levels. A number of synthetic AR inhibitors (ARIs) including tolrestat and sorbinil have been developed, but all of these suffer from drawbacks such as poor permeation and safety issues. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies and many researchers have been carrying out research to find new, potent and safe ARIs from natural sources. Thus, many naturally occurring compounds have been reported to have AR inhibitory activity. The present review attempts to highlight phytochemicals and plant extracts with potential AR inhibitory activity. It also summarizes the classes of compounds which have proven AR inhibitory activity. Phytochemicals such as quercetin, kaempferol and ellagic acid are found to be the most promising ARIs. The exhaustive literature presented in this article clearly indicates the role of plant extracts and phytochemicals as potential ARIs.

Keywords: advanced glycation end products; aldose reductase; natural products; plant extracts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Reductase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Ellagic Acid / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Galactitol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy
  • Kaempferols / pharmacology
  • Lens, Crystalline / enzymology
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Quercetin / pharmacology
  • Rats


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Kaempferols
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Galactitol
  • Ellagic Acid
  • kaempferol
  • Quercetin
  • Aldehyde Reductase