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Pain. 2019 May;160 Suppl 1:S29-S36. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001530.

Structure-function relationships in peripheral nerve contributions to diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.
2
Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Abstract

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a major global health concern, affecting more than 9% of the world population. The most common complication of DM is diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), which leads to neuropathic pain in as many as 50% of patients. Despite its prevalence, there is neither good prevention of nor treatments for DPN, representing a major gap in care for the many who are afflicted. It has long been known from patient studies that both small and large primary afferent fibers undergo structural changes in DPN; however, the exact functional contributions of these changes to DPN symptomology are unknown, necessitating animal studies. This review first presents the commonly used mouse models of DPN resulting from both type 1 and type 2 DM. It then discusses structural changes in Aβ, Aδ, and C fibers throughout the progression of DPN and their respective contributions to painful DPN in both human patients and DM mouse models. Finally, it highlights remaining questions on sensory neuron structure-function relationships in painful DPN and how we may address these in mouse models by using technological advances in cell-specific modulation. Only when these structure-function relationships are understood, can novel targeted therapeutics be developed for DPN.

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