Maillard reaction products and their relation to complications in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

D R McCance, D G Dyer, J A Dunn, K E Bailie, S R Thorpe, J W Baynes, T J Lyons

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Glycation, oxidation, and browning of proteins have all been implicated in the development of diabetic complications. We measured the initial Amadori adduct, fructoselysine (FL); two Maillard products, N epsilon-(carboxymethyl) lysine (CML) and pentosidine; and fluorescence (excitation = 328 nm, emission = 378 nm) in skin collagen from 39 type 1 diabetic patients (aged 41.5 +/- 15.3 [17-73] yr; duration of diabetes 17.9 +/- 11.5 [0-46] yr, [mean +/- SD, range]). The measurements were related to the presence of background (n = 9) or proliferative (n = 16) retinopathy; early nephropathy (24-h albumin excretion rate [AER24] > or = 20 micrograms/min; n = 9); and limited joint mobility (LJM; n = 20). FL, CML, pentosidine, and fluorescence increased progressively across diabetic retinopathy (P <0.05, P <0.001, P <0.05, P <0.01, respectively). FL, CML, pentosidine, and fluorescence were also elevated in patients with early nephropathy (P <0.05, P <0.001, P <0.01, P <0.01, respectively). There was no association with LJM. Controlling for age, sex, and duration of diabetes using logistic regression, FL and CML were independently associated with retinopathy (FL odds ratio (OR) = 1.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.01-1.12, P <0.05; CML OR = 6.77, 95% CI = 1.33-34.56, P <0.05) and with early nephropathy (FL OR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.01-1.10, P <0.05; CML OR = 13.44, 95% CI = 2.00-93.30, P <0.01). The associations between fluorescence and retinopathy and between pentosidine and nephropathy approached significance (P = 0.05). These data show that FL and Maillard products in skin correlate with functional abnormalities in other tissues and suggest that protein glycation and oxidation (glycoxidation) may be implicated in the development of diabetic retinopathy and early nephropathy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2470-8
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of clinical investigation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1993


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arginine
  • Collagen
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Diabetic Angiopathies
  • Diabetic Nephropathies
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lysine
  • Maillard Reaction
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin


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