Oxidative stress mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) is believed to be the cause of diabetic kidney damage (nephropathy). ROS can damage proteins, lipids, and DNA. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA is an antioxidant which has been shown to aid in prevention of diabetic nephropathy. This study was done to demonstrate the ability of ALA to protect the energy producing centers (mitochondria) of kidney cells and prevent diabetic nephropathy.
The twenty-four male rats studied were given streptozotocin to induce diabetes. Some of the diabetic rats were treated with ALA, and others which were not treated served as controls. After 8 weeks, the rats received blood testing, urine was collected for 24 hours, and the kidneys were removed for histologic studies. The urine was studied for albumin content and mitochondria were separated from the kidney tissue to study for damage.
Treatment with ALA improved the kidney function of the diabetic rats as compared to the untreated diabetic controls. The pathologic slides of kidney cells showed marked abnormalities in structure in the untreated rats, with reduced abnormalities seen in the ALA treated rats. Damage to the mitochondria seen in the diabetic rats was reduced in rats treated with ALA. Damaged mitochondria can eventually result in a loss of energy supply for cells.
CONCLUSION: Alpha lipoic acid reduces the production of reactive oxygen species and prevents damage to the mitochondria of kidney cells of diabetic rats. ALA will most likely prove useful in prevention and treatment of diabetic glomerulosclerosis in humans.
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