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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2014 Feb;348(2):281-92. doi: 10.1124/jpet.113.210435. Epub 2013 Nov 21.

Heat shock protein 70 is necessary to improve mitochondrial bioenergetics and reverse diabetic sensory neuropathy following KU-32 therapy.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology (J.M., K.L.F., P.P. M.J.U., R.T.D.) and Department of Medicinal Chemistry (H.Z., B.S.J.B.), The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.


Impaired neuronal mitochondrial bioenergetics contributes to the pathophysiologic progression of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) and may be a focal point for disease management. We have demonstrated that modulating heat shock protein (Hsp) 90 and Hsp70 with the small-molecule drug KU-32 ameliorates psychosensory, electrophysiologic, morphologic, and bioenergetic deficits of DPN in animal models of type 1 diabetes. The current study used mouse models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes to determine the relationship of changes in sensory neuron mitochondrial bioenergetics to the onset of and recovery from DPN. The onset of DPN showed a tight temporal correlation with a decrease in mitochondrial bioenergetics in a genetic model of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, sensory hypoalgesia developed 10 weeks before the occurrence of significant declines in sensory neuron mitochondrial bioenergetics in the type 1 model. KU-32 therapy improved mitochondrial bioenergetics in both the type 1 and type 2 models, and this tightly correlated with a decrease in DPN. Mechanistically, improved mitochondrial function following KU-32 therapy required Hsp70, since the drug was ineffective in diabetic Hsp70 knockout mice. Our data indicate that changes in mitochondrial bioenergetics may rapidly contribute to nerve dysfunction in type 2 diabetes, but not type 1 diabetes, and that modulating Hsp70 offers an effective approach toward correcting sensory neuron bioenergetic deficits and DPN in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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