Diabetes is a chronic disease, characterized by hyperglycemia, which refers to the elevated levels of glucose in the blood, due to the inability of the body to produce or use insulin effectively. Chronic hyperglycemia levels lead to macrovascular and microvascular complications. The macrovascular complications consist of peripheral artery disease (PAD), cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and cerebrovascular diseases, while the microvascular complications comprise of diabetic microangiopathy, diabetic nephropathy, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy. Vascular endothelial dysfunction plays a crucial role in mediating both macrovascular and microvascular complications under hyperglycemic conditions. In diabetic microvasculature, the intracellular hyperglycemia causes damage to the vascular endothelium through - (i) activation of four biochemical pathways, namely the Polyol pathway, protein kinase C (PKC) pathway, advanced glycation end products (AGE) pathway and hexosamine pathway, all of which commutes glucose and its intermediates leading to overproduction of reactive oxygen species, (ii) dysregulation of growth factors and cytokines, (iii) epigenetic changes which concern the changes in DNA as a response to intracellular changes, and (iv) abnormalities in non-coding RNAs, specifically microRNAs. This review will focus on gaining an understanding of the molecular complexities underlying the vascular complications in diabetes mellitus, to increase our understanding towards the development of new mechanistic therapeutic strategies to prevent or treat diabetes-induced vascular complications.
Keywords: Biochemical pathways Diabetes mellitus Epigenetic changes MicroRNAs Reactive oxygen species Vascular complications