3-Deoxyglucosone (3-DG) is a reactive dicarbonyl sugar thought to be a key intermediate in the nonenzymatic polymerization and browning of proteins by glucose. 3-DG may be formed in vivo from fructose, fructose 3-phosphate, or Amadori adducts to protein, such as NE-fructoselysine (FL), all of which are known to be elevated in body fluids or tissues in diabetes. Modification of proteins by 3-DG formed in vivo is thought to be limited by enzymatic reduction of 3-DG to less reactive species, such as 3-deoxyfructose (3-DF). In this study, we have measured 3-DF, as a metabolic fingerprint of 3-DG, in plasma and urine from a group of diabetic patients and control subjects. Plasma and urinary 3-DF concentrations were significantly increased in the diabetic compared with the control population (0.853 ± 0.189 vs. 0.494 ± 0.072 μM, P < 0.001, and 69.9 ± 44.2 vs. 38.7 ± 16.1 nmol/mg creatinine, P < 0.001, respectively). Plasma and urinary 3-DF concentrations correlated strongly with one another, with HbA1c (P < 0.005 in all cases), and with urinary FL (P < 0.02 and P = 0.005, respectively). The overall increase in 3-DF concentrations in plasma and urine in diabetes and their correlation with other indexes of glycemic control suggest that increased amounts of 3-DG are formed in the body during hyperglycemia in diabetes and then metabolized to 3-DF. These observations are consistent with a role for increased formation of the dicarbonyl sugar 3-DG in the accelerated browning of tissue proteins in diabetes.

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