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Ann Neurol. 2004 Dec;56(6):827-35.

C-peptide prevents nociceptive sensory neuropathy in type 1 diabetes.

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Department of Pathology, Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, USA.


We examined the effects of C-peptide replacement on unmyelinated fiber function in the hind paw, sural nerve C-fiber morphometry, sciatic nerve neurotrophins, and the expression of neurotrophic receptors and content of neuropeptides in dorsal root ganglia in type 1 diabetic BB/Wor-rats. C-peptide replacement from onset of diabetes had no effect on hyperglycemia, but it significantly prevented progressive thermal hyperalgesia and prevented C-fiber atrophy, degeneration, and loss. These findings were associated with preventive effects on impaired availability of nerve growth factor and neurotrophin 3 in the sciatic nerve and significant prevention of perturbed expression of insulin, insulin growth factor-1, nerve growth factor, and neurotrophin 3 receptors in dorsal root ganglion cells. These beneficial effects translated into prevention of the decreased content of dorsal root ganglia nociceptive peptides such as substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide. From these findings we conclude that replacement of insulinomimetic C-peptide prevents abnormalities of neurotrophins, their receptors, and nociceptive neuropeptides in type 1 BB/Wor-rats, resulting in the prevention of C-fiber pathology and nociceptive sensory nerve dysfunction. The data indicate that perturbed insulin/C-peptide action plays an important pathogenetic role in nociceptive sensory neuropathy and that C-peptide replacement may be of benefit in treating painful diabetic neuropathy in insulin-deficient diabetic conditions.

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