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Diabetes. 2006 Aug;55(8):2238-44.

alpha-Lipoic acid prevents the increase in atherosclerosis induced by diabetes in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice fed high-fat/low-cholesterol diet.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 701 Brinkhous-Bullitt Bldg., 27599-7525, USA.


Considerable evidence indicates that hyperglycemia increases oxidative stress and contributes to the increased incidence of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular complications in diabetic patients. To examine the effect of alpha-lipoic acid, a potent natural antioxidant, on atherosclerosis in diabetic mice, 3-month-old apolipoprotein (apo) E-deficient (apoE(-/-)) mice were made diabetic by administering streptozotocin (STZ). At 4 weeks after starting the STZ administration, a high-fat diet with or without alpha-lipoic acid (1.65 g/kg) was given to the mice and to nondiabetic apoE(-/-) controls. At 20 weeks, markers of oxidative stress were significantly lower in both the diabetic apoE(-/-) mice and their nondiabetic apoE(-/-) controls with alpha-lipoic acid supplement than in those without it. Remarkably, alpha-lipoic acid completely prevented the increase in plasma total cholesterol, atherosclerotic lesions, and the general deterioration of health caused by diabetes. These protective effects of alpha-lipoic acid were accompanied by a reduction of plasma glucose and an accelerated recovery of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, suggesting that part of its effects are attributable to protecting pancreatic beta-cells from damage. Our results suggest that dietary alpha-lipoic acid is a promising protective agent for reducing cardiovascular complications of diabetes.

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