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Diabetologia. 1991 Nov;34(11):807-12.

Changes in cholinergic sweat gland activation in diabetic neuropathy identified by computerised sweatspot analysis.

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Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Central Middlesex Hospital, London, UK.


Peripheral small-fibre denervation has been reported to result in decreased activation of eccrine sweat glands to muscarinic cholinergic agents. Using computerised image-analysis of pilocarpine-activated sweatspot prints of a 4 cm2 area of the dorsum of the foot in 79 randomly selected diabetic patients we have identified a group of neuropathic patients (18%) with decreased sweatspot activation (less than 20/cm2), and a smaller group (6%) of younger patients with less marked neuropathy who had increased activation (greater than 132/cm2), probably resulting from denervation supersensitivity. The associations between sweatspot density and other conventional tests of peripheral nerve function were weak. The prevalence of abnormal sweatspot density, 24%, was similar to that of other tests, except thermal thresholds at the feet (35-37%), which were not correlated with sweatspot activation, suggesting that diabetic neuropathy has differing effects on afferent and efferent small fibres. The method is rapid and reproducible (median coefficient of variation 14%) and its ability to identify patients with increased, as well as decreased, peripheral nerve function may be of value in the characterisation and longitudinal follow-up of small-fibre abnormalities in diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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