Reactive oxygen species (ROS) in macrophage activation and function in diabetes

Erika Rendra, Vladimir Riabov, Dieuwertje M Mossel, Tatyana Sevastyanova, Martin C Harmsen, Julia Kzhyshkowska

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)


In a diabetic milieu high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are induced. This contributes to the vascular complications of diabetes. Recent studies have shown that ROS formation is exacerbated in diabetic monocytes and macrophages due to a glycolytic metabolic shift. Macrophages are important players in the progression of diabetes and promote inflammation through the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and proteases. Because ROS is an important mediator for the activation of pro-inflammatory signaling pathways, obesity and hyperglycemia-induced ROS production may favor induction of M1-like pro-inflammatory macrophages during diabetes onset and progression. ROS induces MAPK, STAT1, STAT6 and NFκB signaling, and interferes with macrophage differentiation via epigenetic (re)programming. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the impact of ROS on macrophage phenotype and function is needed in order to improve treatment of diabetes and its vascular complications. In the current comprehensive review, we dissect the role of ROS in macrophage polarization, and analyze how ROS production links metabolism and inflammation in diabetes and its complications. Finally, we discuss the contribution of ROS to the crosstalk between macrophages and endothelial cells in diabetic complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-253
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2019

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