Protein kinase C activation and its role in the development of vascular complications in diabetes mellitus

J Mol Med (Berl). 1998 Jan;76(1):21-31. doi: 10.1007/s001090050187.


Hyperglycemia is the major causal factor in the development of diabetic vascular complications and can mediate their adverse effects through multiple pathways. One of those mechanisms is the activation of protein kinase C (PKC) by hyperglycemia-induced increases in diacylglycerol (DAG) level, partly due to de novo synthesis. The activation of PKC regulates various vascular functions by modulating enzymatic activities such as cytosolic phospholipase A2 and Na+,K+-ATPase, and gene expressions including extracellular matrix components and contractile proteins. Some of the resulting vascular abnormalities include changes in retinal and renal blood flow, contractility, permeability, proliferation, and basement membrane. Among the various isoforms of PKC predominantly the beta isoforms are activated in cultured vascular cells exposed to high glucose and vascular tissues isolated from animal models of diabetes mellitus. Administration of vitamin E, which decreases DAG level possibly through the activation of DAG kinase, prevents hemodynamic changes in retina and renal glomeruli of diabetic rats. In addition, the inhibition of PKC beta isoforms by a specific inhibitor (LY333531) can normalize the changes in gene expression of cytokines, caldesmon, and hemodynamics. These results provide supportive evidence that the activation of PKC, especially the beta isoforms, is involved in the development of diabetic vascular complications, and that PKCbeta inhibitors can be used in the treatment of diabetic vascular complications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / enzymology*
  • Diglycerides / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / enzymology*
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*


  • Diglycerides
  • Protein Kinase C