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Diabetologia. 2001 Jul;44(7):834-8.

Detection of nitrotyrosine in the diabetic plasma: evidence of oxidative stress.

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Department of Pathology and Medicine, Experimental and Clinical, University of Udine, Italy.



Oxidative stress plays an important role in diabetic vascular complications. It has been shown that an imbalance in the ratio of nitric oxide: superoxide anion, because of a prevalence of superoxide anion, leads to an alteration in vascular reactivity. In this condition peroxynitrite production, resulting from the reaction between nitric oxide and superoxide, could increase. Peroxynitrite is responsible for nitration of tyrosine residues in proteins. Therefore, the presence of nitrotyrosine in plasma proteins is considered indirect evidence of peroxynitrite production. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the presence of nitrotyrosine in the plasma of patients with Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and to correlate its concentrations with the plasma concentrations of glucose and antioxidant defenses.


A total of 40 Type II diabetic patients and 35 healthy subjects were enrolled, and glycaemia, plasma nitrotyrosine, total antioxidant parameter and glycated haemoglobin were measured. Nitrotyrosine was detected by ELISA with a detection limit of 10 nmol/l.


Nitrotyrosine was found in the plasma of all diabetic patients (means +/- SD = 0.251 +/- 0.141 micromol/l), whereas it was not detectable in the plasma of healthy control subjects. Nitrotyrosine plasma values were correlated with plasma glucose concentrations (r = 0.38, p < 0.02) but not with total antioxidant parameter or glycated haemoglobin. Total antioxidant parameter was reduced in diabetic patients (p < 0.01).


The presence of nitrotyrosine in the plasma of diabetic patients indicates that peroxynitrite is generated in diabetes, suggesting a possible involvement of peroxynitrite in the development of diabetic complications.

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