Glycemic variability and oxidative stress: a link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease?

Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Oct 13;15(10):18381-406. doi: 10.3390/ijms151018381.


Diabetes is associated with a two to three-fold increase in risk of cardiovascular disease. However, intensive glucose-lowering therapy aiming at reducing HbA1c to a near-normal level failed to suppress cardiovascular events in recent randomized controlled trials. HbA1c reflects average glucose level rather than glycemic variability. In in vivo and in vitro studies, glycemic variability has been shown to be associated with greater reactive oxygen species production and vascular damage, compared to chronic hyperglycemia. These findings suggest that management of glycemic variability may reduce cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes; however, clinical studies have shown conflicting results. This review summarizes the current knowledge on glycemic variability and oxidative stress, and discusses the clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Diabetes Complications / complications*
  • Diabetes Complications / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / complications
  • Hypoglycemia / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose