Levels of lens aldose reductase, aldehyde dehydrogenase activity, and erythrocyte NADPH-oxidising (or glyceraldehyde reductase) activity were determined in 17 diabetic and 16 nondiabetic patients undergoing cataract extraction. Lens aldose reductase and aldehyde dehydrogenase activities were significantly lower in diabetics than in nondiabetics. Both enzymes showed significant inverse correlations with grouped HbA1c and fasting blood glucose levels. By contrast, erythrocyte NADPH-oxidising activity showed a significant positive correlation with grouped HbA1C. It is suggested that a direct effect of the glycaemic status on the lens enzymes is masked by a loss of enzymes secondary to the development of cataract. It is not yet possible to say whether erythrocyte NADPH-oxidising activity can be used to monitor aldose reductase activity in the lens or other tissues in clinical trials of aldose reductase inhibitors.
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