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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2004 Dec;66 Suppl 1:S53-6.

Can diabetic neuropathy be prevented?

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Chonju, South Korea.


The incidence of diabetes and its complication have rapidly increased. Decreased quality of life and increased mortality are the major problems of people with diabetes. These problems are mainly caused by chronic complications. The incidence of diabetic neuropathy, which is one of these chronic complications, approaches 50% in most diabetic patients. The intensive metabolic management alone cannot completely prevent the development and progression of diabetic complications. Therefore, blocking and management of pathogenic mechanism of complication are required. Pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy has multifactorial causes. Diabetic neuropathy is thought to occur both from direct hyperglycemia-induced damage to the nerve parenchyma and from neuronal ischemia brought about indirectly by hyperglycemia-induced decreases in neurovascular flow. The effects of hyperglycemia get converted to neuronal dysfunction via at least three secondary biochemical pathways: the polyol pathway, non-enzymatic glycation of proteins, oxidative stress and protein kinase C, and the interactions between them. Because of these interactions, interference with one of these biochemical pathways could either worsen or attenuate the effects of the others. So, the use of therapeutic intervention of these pathways is inevitable and valid to prevent the progression of diabetic neuropathy. As yet, a satisfactory and fundamental, preventive, and therapeutic method is not available with us to prevent progression. So, we will introduce the earlier diagnostic methods of diabetic neuropathy and will discuss the advantages and limitations of each method.

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