Despite decades of scientific effort, diabetes continues to represent an incredibly complex and difficult disease to treat. This is due in large part to the multifactorial nature of disease onset and progression and the multiple organ systems affected. An increasing body of scientific evidence indicates that a key mediator of diabetes progression is NRF2, a critical transcription factor that regulates redox, protein, and metabolic homeostasis. Importantly, while experimental studies have confirmed the critical nature of proper NRF2 function in preventing the onset of diabetic outcomes, we have only just begun to scratch the surface of understanding the mechanisms by which NRF2 modulates diabetes progression, particularly across different causative contexts. One reason for this is the contradictory nature of the current literature, which can often be accredited to model discrepancies, as well as whether NRF2 is activated in an acute or chronic manner. Furthermore, despite therapeutic promise, there are no current NRF2 activators in clinical trials for the treatment of patients with diabetes. In this review, we briefly introduce the transcriptional programs regulated by NRF2 as well as how NRF2 itself is regulated. We also review the current literature regarding NRF2 modulation of diabetic phenotypes across the different diabetes subtypes, including a brief discussion of contradictory results, as well as what is needed to progress the NRF2 diabetes field forward.

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