The assumption underlying current diabetes treatment is that lowering the level of time-averaged glucose concentrations, measured as HbA1c, prevents microvascular complications. However, 89% of variation in risk of retinopathy, microalbuminuria, or albuminuria is due to elements of glycemia not captured by mean HbA1c values. We show that transient exposure to high glucose activates a multicomponent feedback loop that causes a stable left shift of the glucose concentration-reactive oxygen species (ROS) dose-response curve. Feedback loop disruption by the GLP-1 cleavage product GLP-1(9-36)amide reverses the persistent left shift, thereby normalizing persistent overproduction of ROS and its pathophysiologic consequences. These data suggest that hyperglycemic spikes high enough to activate persistent ROS production during subsequent periods of normal glycemia but too brief to affect the HbA1c value are a major determinant of the 89% of diabetes complications risk not captured by HbA1c. The phenomenon and mechanism described in this study provide a basis for the development of both new biomarkers to complement HbA1c and novel therapeutic agents, including GLP-1(9-36)amide, for the prevention and treatment of diabetes complications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism