Diabetes mellitus is associated with an increased risk of micro and macrovascular complications. During hyperglycemic conditions, endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells are exquisitely sensitive to high glucose. This high glucose-induced sustained reactive oxygen species production leads to redox imbalance, which is associated with endothelial dysfunction and vascular wall remodeling. Nrf2, a redox-regulated transcription factor plays a key role in the antioxidant response element (ARE)-mediated expression of antioxidant genes. Although accumulating data indicate the molecular mechanisms underpinning the Nrf2 regulated redox balance, understanding the influence of Nrf2/ARE axis during hyperglycemic condition on vascular cells is paramount. This review focuses the context-dependent role of Nrf2/ARE signaling on vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cell function during hyperglycemic conditions. This review also highlights on improving the Nrf2 system in vascular tissues, which could be a potential therapeutic strategy for vascular dysfunction.
Keywords: Nrf2/ARE, Vascular dysfunction, Smooth muscle cells, Endothelial cells, Phase II antioxidant enzymes, Oxidative stress
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