Resistance to axonal degeneration after nerve compression in experimental diabetes

P. J. Dyck, J. K. Engelstad, C. Giannini, A. C. Lais, S. R. Minnerath, J. L. Karnes

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To determine the effect of diabetes on the development of axonal degeneration after acute nerve compression, the mobilized peroneal nerves of rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes and of control rats were compressed at 150 mmHg (1 mmHg = 133 Pa) for 30 min by using specially devised cuffs. At three intervals after compression - 3 days, rats diabetic for 31 wk; 14 days, diabetic for 6 wk; and 24 days, diabetic for 31 wk - groups of nerves were studied to assess numbers and sizes of fibers above, at, and below the cuff and to assess frequency of fiber degeneration in teased fibers from nerve distal to the cuff. Teased fibers with pathological abnormalities were more frequent in nerves from controls than in nerves from diabetic rats in all three groups but the difference was statistically significant only at 3 and 14 days after compression. The lack of significant difference at 24 days may be explained by higher rates of disappearance of degenerating products and of fiber regeneration at 24 than at 3 and 14 days. This study provides evidence that in addition to delaying the reported functional deficit of vibratory detection threshold and conduction block during nerve compression, diabetes also may partially prevent axonal injury. Low nerve myo-inositol concentration did not predispose diabetic nerve to acute compression injury. If these results also apply to human diabetes and if repeated acute compression is involved in the genesis of fiber degeneration in entrapment, then a higher frequency of entrapment neuropathy among diabetics might be due to mechanisms other than increased susceptibility of fibers to acute compression - e.g., possibly to greater constriction of nerve due to pathologic alterations of the carpal ligament.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2103-2106
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1989

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