Glycation adducts formed in the later stages of protein glycation reactions, advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), are a class of uraemic toxin. Protein glycation was viewed originally as a post-translational modification that accumulated mostly on extracellular proteins. We now know that AGE residues are also formed on short-lived cellular and extracellular proteins. Cellular proteolysis forms AGE free adducts from these proteins, which are released into plasma for urinary excretion. AGE free adducts are also absorbed from food. AGE free adducts are the major molecular form by which AGEs are excreted in urine. They normally have high renal clearance, but this declines markedly in chronic renal failure patients, leading to profound increases in plasma AGE free adducts. Accumulation of plasma AGE free adducts is increased further in end stage renal disease patients on peritoneal dialysis and haemodialysis by increased AGE formation. The impact of AGEs absorbed from food is probably most marked for undialysed patients with mild uraemia. The toxicity of AGEs has been associated with resistance of the extracellular matrix to proteolysis and AGE receptor-mediated responses. AGE free adducts may also contribute to vascular disease in uraemia. They represent an important new age for glycation research in nephrology.
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