Much attention has been given to the role played by serine proteases in the development and worsening of vascular complications in Type 1 diabetes mellitus. A generalized increase in proteolytic activity, either due to a true increase in concentration of specific proteases or defects of their protease inhibitors, represents an early marker of diabetes. However, the precise molecular mechanism whereby an unopposed proteolytic activity leads to overt vascular alterations has not fully been elucidated as yet. The picture is further complicated by the fact that, although sharing the same function, serine proteases constitute a structurally heterogeneous class of molecules. Besides classical proteases, for most part belonging to coagulative and fibrinolytic systems, other unrelated molecules exhibit serine-like protease activity and are capable of triggering both inflammatory and immune reactions. The specific role of these non classical serine proteases in the complex pathogenesis of diabetes and its vascular complications is attracting a new investigative interest, as these molecules may represent additional therapeutic targets. This review will focus on most recent acquisitions on this issue relevant to Type 1 diabetes.
Keywords: Diabetes mellitus, Insulin-dependent, Serine Proteases, Heat Shock Proteins, Immunoglobulins, Immune complexes
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