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Neurology. 2010 Sep 14;75(11):973-81. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181f25f19.

Gastric mucosal nerve density: a biomarker for diabetic autonomic neuropathy?

Author information

1
Departments of Neurology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA. selim002@umn.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Autonomic neuropathy is a frequent diagnosis for the gastrointestinal symptoms or postural hypotension experienced by patients with longstanding diabetes. However, neuropathologic evidence to substantiate the diagnosis is limited. We hypothesized that quantification of nerves in gastric mucosa would confirm the presence of autonomic neuropathy.

METHODS:

Mucosal biopsies from the stomach antrum and fundus were obtained during endoscopy from 15 healthy controls and 13 type 1 diabetic candidates for pancreas transplantation who had secondary diabetic complications affecting the eyes, kidneys, and nerves, including a diagnosis of gastroparesis. Neurologic status was evaluated by neurologic examination, nerve conduction studies, and skin biopsy. Biopsies were processed to quantify gastric mucosal nerves and epidermal nerves.

RESULTS:

Gastric mucosal nerves from diabetic subjects had reduced density and abnormal morphology compared to control subjects (p < 0.05). The horizontal and vertical meshwork pattern of nerve fibers that normally extends from the base of gastric glands to the basal lamina underlying the epithelial surface was deficient in diabetic subjects. Eleven of the 13 diabetic patients had residual food in the stomach after overnight fasting. Neurologic abnormalities on clinical examination were found in 12 of 13 diabetic subjects and nerve conduction studies were abnormal in all patients. The epidermal nerve fiber density was deficient in skin biopsies from diabetic subjects.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this observational study, gastric mucosal nerves were abnormal in patients with type 1 diabetes with secondary complications and clinical evidence of gastroparesis. Gastric mucosal biopsy is a safe, practical method for histologic diagnosis of gastric autonomic neuropathy.

PMID:
20837965
PMCID:
PMC3463013
DOI:
10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181f25f19
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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