Aldose reductase and complications of diabetes

D. G. Cogan, J. H. Kinoshita, P. F. Kador

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Tissues of the eye affected by diabetes are the lens, cornea, and retina. The lens becomes cataractous through osmotic swelling of its cortical fibers. Sorbitol, formed in the presence of aldose reductase, accumulates in the lens during hyperglycemia. Dulcitol similarly accumulates in the presence of galactosemia. Cataractogenesis in both cases can be prevented by inhibitors of aldose reductase. The efficacy of synthetic inhibitors differs in various tissues and species, but they react with aldose reductase at a common structural site. The most promising inhibitor is sorbinil. Diabetic retinopathy is similarly related to sorbitol accumulation and may be prevented or reversed by inhibition of aldose reductase. Healing of corneal wounds in diabetes is facilitated by enzyme inhibition. Retinal vasculopathy of diabetes is due to selective loss of the intramural pericytes that normally form structural elements in the retinal capillary walls. The vulnerability of these cells is due to their aldose reductase content. Whether inhibition of aldose reductase will prevent retinopathy is being tested in a randomized trial conducted by the National Eye Institute.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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