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HYPOGLYCAEMIC NEUROPATHY: OCCURRENCE OF AXON TERMINALS IN PLANTAR SKIN AND PLANTAR MUSCLE OF DIABETIC BB/WOR RATS TREATED WITH INSULIN IMPLANTS

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It is generally believed that diabetic neuropathy is due to chronic hyperglycaemia. However, experience from insulinoma patients and experimental studies show that hypoglycaemia may also cause neuropathy. Accordingly, the plantar nerves of diabetic eu-/hypoglycaemic BB/Wor rats treated with insulin implants exhibit a distinct neuropathy. To what extent hypoglycaemic neuropathy affects axon terminals in skin and muscle is unknown. In the present study we examine the occurrence of epidermal axon profiles and the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in plantar skin, and of end plate axon terminals in a plantar muscle of diabetic BB/Wor rats subjected to long periods of hypoglycaemia. The number of protein gene product-immunoreactive axon profiles was found to be normal in heel skin biopsy specimens from eu-/hypoglycaemic rats, but many profiles were short and thin. The content of CGRP in the skin biopsy samples was significantly below normal. After staining with antibodies against the vesicular acetyl choline transporter protein, the occurrence of end plate axon terminals was significantly reduced in sections from the flexor hallucis brevis muscle of eu-/hypoglycaemic rats. Moreover, the end plate axon terminals tended to be abnormally small in these rats. We conclude that the hypoglycaemic neuropathy seen in plantar nerve trunks of diabetic BB/Wor rats treated with insulin implants is accompanied by mild alterations in the epidermal innervation of plantar skin and a more obviously abnormal nerve terminal pattern in plantar muscle.
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Document Type: Abstract

Affiliations: Acta Neuropathologica 99: 257–262, 2000. Reprinted with permission from Springer Verlag.

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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