Diabetes is considered to be one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. There is a growing scientific and public interest in connecting oxidative stress with a variety of pathological conditions including diabetes mellitus (DM) as well as other human diseases. Previous experimental and clinical studies report that oxidative stress plays a major role in the pathogenesis and development of complications of both types of DM. However, the exact mechanism by which oxidative stress could contribute to and accelerate the development of complications in diabetic mellitus is only partly known and remains to be clarified. On the one hand, hyperglycemia induces free radicals; on the other hand, it impairs the endogenous antioxidant defense system in patients with diabetes. Endogenous antioxidant defense mechanisms include both enzymatic and non-enzymatic pathways. Their functions in human cells are to counterbalance toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS). Common antioxidants include the vitamins A, C, and E, glutathione (GSH), and the enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and glutathione reductase (GRx). This review describes the importance of endogenous antioxidant defense systems, their relationship to several pathophysiological processes and their possible therapeutic implications in vivo.
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