Recent progress in structure elucidation of products of the advanced Maillard reaction now allows probing specifically for the role of this reaction in the pathogenesis of age- and diabetes-related complications. Pyrraline is a glucose-derived advanced glycation end product against which polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies have been raised. Immunohistochemical localization studies revealed that pyrraline is found predominantly in the sclerosed extracellular matrix of glomerular and arteriolar renal tissues from both diabetic and aged nondiabetic individuals. Pentosidine and carboxymethyllysine are Maillard end products derived from both glucose and ascorbate. In addition, pentosidine can be formed from several other sugars under oxidative conditions, and in vitro studies suggest that a common intermediate involving a pentose is a necessary precursor molecule. The highest levels of these advanced Maillard products are generally found in the extracellular matrix, but these products are also present in lens proteins and in proteins with a fast turnover such as plasma proteins. Diabetes, and especially uremia, greatly catalyzes pentosidine formation. Both conditions are characterized by accelerated cataractogenesis, atherosclerosis, and neuropathy, suggesting that molecular damage by advanced Maillard reaction products may be a common mechanism in their development.

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