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Pathophysiology. 2006 Aug;13(3):163-70. Epub 2006 Jun 19.

Hyperketonemia (ketosis), oxidative stress and type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 1501 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71130, United States.


The long-term complications of diabetes are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the type 1 diabetic population and remain a major public health issue. Hyperglycemia is one of the major risk factors in the development of vascular complications. A growing body of evidence indicates that hyperglycemia leads to increased oxidative stress and monocyte and endothelial cell dysfunction. In addition to hyperglycemia, type 1 diabetic patients frequently experience ketosis (hyperketonemia). The blood concentration of ketone bodies reaches higher than 25mM in diabetics with severe ketosis. Traditionally, clinical practice has considered hypertketonemia to be present only in type 1 diabetic patients. Newer data indicate that diabetic ketoaciosis or hyperketonemia co-exists with hyperglycemia among older type 2 diabetic patients and in African Americans and other minority groups with type 2 diabetes. This review will focus on the role of hyperketonemia in the etiology of oxidative stress in diabetic patients. The data presented here illustrate that the ketone body acetoacetate (AA) can generate superoxide radicals and cause increases in oxidative stress and cellular dysfunction. The data included in this review demonstrate that blood levels of markers of oxidative stress are elevated in hyperketonemic patients compared with those of normoketonemic diabetic patients. Thus, both in vitro and in vivo research indicate that ketosis can generate oxygen radicals and result in excess cellular oxidative stress in type 1 diabetic patients. Elevated oxidative stress levels in ketotic patients can play a significant role in the development of vascular inflammation and contribute to the increased incidence of vascular disease and complications associated with type 1 diabetes.

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