Alpha-lipoic acid as a pleiotropic compound with potential therapeutic use in diabetes and other chronic diseases

Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2014 Jul 28;6(1):80. doi: 10.1186/1758-5996-6-80. eCollection 2014.


Alpha-lipoic acid is a naturally occurring substance, essential for the function of different enzymes that take part in mitochondria's oxidative metabolism. It is believed that alpha-lipoic acid or its reduced form, dihydrolipoic acid have many biochemical functions acting as biological antioxidants, as metal chelators, reducers of the oxidized forms of other antioxidant agents such as vitamin C and E, and modulator of the signaling transduction of several pathways. These above-mentioned actions have been shown in experimental studies emphasizing the use of alpha-lipoic acid as a potential therapeutic agent for many chronic diseases with great epidemiological as well economic and social impact such as brain diseases and cognitive dysfunctions like Alzheimer disease, obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, burning mouth syndrome, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, some types of cancer, glaucoma and osteoporosis. Many conflicting data have been found concerning the clinical use of alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetes and of diabetes-related chronic complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, wound healing and diabetic cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy. The most frequent clinical condition in which alpha-lipoic acid has been studied was in the management of diabetic peripheral neuropathy in patients with type 1 as well type 2 diabetes. Considering that oxidative stress, a imbalance between pro and antioxidants with excessive production of reactive oxygen species, is a factor in the development of many diseases and that alpha-lipoic acid, a natural thiol antioxidant, has been shown to have beneficial effects on oxidative stress parameters in various tissues we wrote this article in order to make an up-to-date review of current thinking regarding alpha-lipoic acid and its use as an antioxidant drug therapy for a myriad of diseases that could have potential benefits from its use.

Keywords: Alpha-lipoic acid; Biochemical action; Chronic diseases; Diabetes mellitus.