Diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM), as one of the major cardiac complications in diabetic patients, is known to related with oxidative stress that is due to a severe imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or reactive nitrogen species (RNS) generation and their clearance by antioxidant defense systems. Transcription factor nuclear factor NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) plays an important role in maintaining the oxidative homeostasis by regulating multiple downstream antioxidants. Diabetes may up-regulate several antioxidants in the heart as a compensative mechanism at early stage, but at late stage, diabetes not only generates extra ROS and/or RNS but also impairs antioxidant capacity in the heart, including Nrf2. In an early study, we have established that Nrf2 protect the cardiac cells and heart from high level of glucose in vitro and hyperglycemia in vivo, and in the following study demonstrated the significant down-regulation of cardiac Nrf2 expression in diabetic animals and patients. Using Nrf2-KO mice or Nrf2 inducers, blooming evidence has indicated the important protection by Nrf2 from cardiac pathogenesis in the diabetes. Therefore, this brief review summarizes the status of studies on Nrf2's role in preventing DCM and even other complications, the need for new and safe Nrf2 inducer screening and the precaution for the undesirable side of Nrf2 under certain conditions.
Keywords: Antioxidant therapy; Diabetic cardiomyopathies; Nrf2; Oxidative stress.