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The American Diabetes Journal has details on an interesting NRF2 study currently in progress. Diabetes is a huge concern to many individuals and families. According to statistics published by the American Diabetes Association  more than 25.8 million children and adults in the United States in 2010 have diabetes. That accounts for 8.3% of the population. A whopping 79 million people have pre-diabetic symptoms. In 2010, there were 1.9 million new cases of diabetes in people aged 20 years and older.

Complications from Diabetes

The following complications may occur as a result of diabetes.

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease
  • Nervous system disease (Neuropathy)
  • Amputation

The following study is highlighted on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website.

Nrf2 activator to prevent diabetic cardiomyopathy

The study is being conducted by: Cai, Lu , M.D., Ph.D. University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. It focuses on both Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes. The study started January 1, 2011 and is anticipated to end December 31, 2013.


Oxidative stress is associated with over 200 diseases, including diabetes. A diabetic’s heart is easily damaged from oxidative stress. Consuming antioxidants directly is not an effective enough protector of the heart. This study attempts to stimulate the body’s own production of several antioxidant genes/proteins in the heart through  a pathway known as the Nrf2 pathway. Nrf2 is the master regulator which turns on several antioxidant enzymes in the body.

According to the website, Dr. Cai’s group showed that mice without Nrf2 are more easily damaged by diabetes than mice with higher levels of Nrf2. The group used a compound known as Dh404 as their NRF2 activator. Their hope is that results of this study will be conclusive to provide a new medication to protect the heart from diabetes. The researchers state that although this a new approach to diabetes treatment, their initial research shows it to be “a feasible project since we have shown the importance of Nrf2 in protecting a diabetic heart, and also have the compound (Dh404) to increase cardiac Nrf2 in animals.”

To be more specific regarding protecting the heart, this project investigates the effects of NRF2 on diabetic myocardial complications (diabetic cardiomyopathy).  When the results are presented, there will be an answer to whether Nrf2 is capable of preventing diabetes-induced oxidative and nitrosative stress and the resulting progression of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

The researchers  hope that if their findings are positive, that they might find or develop some dietary supplements to up-regulate cardiovascular levels of Nrf2. They further hope that this NRF2 up-regulation of genes and proteins in the heart will be able to prevent diabetes-induced cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Cai is motivated to find a cure due to the fact that many of his friends and family have been inflicted with Diabetes, including his mother in 1999 at the age of 59 years of age.

Dr. Cai believes that diabetes (both type I and type II) will be prevented or at least delayed if an early diagnosis and treatment can be implemented as a result of these and future studies. It is his hope that hypertension, cardiomyopathy, and stroke will be prevented through the enhancement of endogenous and exogenous antioxidants.

There are over 150 NRF2/Diabetic studies published on Pubmed.


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