Advanced glycation end-products are a complex and heterogeneous group of compounds that have been implicated in diabetes related complications. At present it is not known if they are the cause or the consequence of the complications observed. We discuss the chemistry of advanced glycated end-product formation and their patho-biochemistry particularly in relation to the diabetic microvascular complications of retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy as well as their role in the accelerated vasculopathy observed in diabetes. The concept of carbonyl stress as a cause for advanced glycated end-product toxicity is mentioned. We discuss alterations in the concentrations of advanced glycated end-products in the body, particularly in relation to changes occuring with age, diabetes and its complications such as nephropathy. Problems relating to current methods of advanced glycated end-product detection and measurement are highlighted including the lack of a universally established method of detection or unit of measurement. Agents used for the treatment of advanced glycated end-product accumulation are reviewed, with an emphasis on the results of the recent phase III trials using aminoguanidine and diabetes related complications. [Diabetologia (2001) 44: 129–146]

Keywords Advanced glycated end-products diabetes mellitus microvascular disease carbonyl stress aminoguanidine.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001