Enhanced metabolism of glucose via the polyol pathway may play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy. Aldose reductase catalyzes the NADPH-dependent conversion of glucose to sorbitol, the first step in the polyol pathway. Interruption of the polyol pathway by inhibition of aldose reductase holds considerable promise as a therapeutic measure to prevent or delay the onset and severity of these late complications of diabetes. Dramatic advances in our understanding of the molecular biology, enzymology, and three-dimensional structure of aldose reductase have occurred in recent years, providing new and challenging insights into the enzyme's catalytic mechanism. Recent developments in structure determination of aldose reductase and the implications for evaluation and development of aldose reductase inhibitors are summarized.

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