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Metabolism. 2006 Feb;55(2):232-6.

Increased serum levels of the specific advanced glycation end product methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone are associated with retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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Diabetes Research Centre, Aker and Ullevål University Hospitals, N-0514 Oslo, Norway.


Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are thought to play a major pathogenic role in diabetic retinopathy. The most important AGE is unknown, but as increased serum methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone has been demonstrated in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, the aim of the present study was to elucidate possible associations between serum levels of hydroimidazolone and retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. We recruited 227 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and retinopathy ranging from none to proliferative. Level of retinopathy was determined from 7 standard field stereo photographs per eye according to the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study. The patients were 66 +/- 11 years old, with a known diabetes duration of 14 +/- 9 years. Serum levels of hydroimidazolone were determined with a competitive immunoassay. Serum levels of hydroimidazolone were increased in nonproliferative (median, 4.50 U/mL; interquartile range, 3.69-5.77 U/mL) and proliferative retinopathy (median, 4.88 U/mL; interquartile range, 3.70-6.52 U/mL) compared with patients without retinopathy (median, 4.02 U/mL; interquartile range, 3.47-4.88 U/mL) (P = .008 and .002, respectively). There was no association between hydroimidazolone and hemoglobin A1c (r = 0.04, P = .57). In addition, patients with proliferative retinopathy and a relatively short known duration of diabetes, that is, less than the median of 14 years, had increased serum levels of hydroimidazolone (median, 6.91 U/mL; interquartile range, 4.70-8.91 U/mL) compared with those with nonproliferative retinopathy (median, 4.34; interquartile range, 3.86-5.53U/mL, P = .015). Serum levels of hydroimidazolone are increased in type 2 diabetic patients with retinopathy. This association is independent of hitherto known associated factors, such as hemoglobin A1c.

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