The catalase enzyme decomposes the toxic concentrations of hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water. Hydrogen peroxide is a highly reactive small molecule and its excessive concentration may cause significant damages to proteins, deoxyribonucleic acid, ribonucleic acid and lipids. Acatalasemia refers to inherited deficiency of the catalase enzyme. In this review the authors discuss the possible role of the human catalase enzyme, the metabolism of hydrogen peroxide, and the phenomenon of hydrogen peroxide paradox. In addition, they review data obtained from Hungarian acatalasemic patients indicating an increased frequency of type 2 diabetes mellitus, especially in female patients, and an early onset of type 2 diabetes in these patients. There are 10 catalase gene variants which appear to be responsible for decreased blood catalase activity in acatalasemic patients with type 2 diabetes. It is assumed that low levels of blood catalase may cause an increased concentration of hydrogen peroxide which may contribute to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
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