Central nervous system seen as a key contributor to diabetic peripheral neuropathy

A recent study published in PAIN found the central nervous system plays a key role in the development of diabetic peripheral neuropathy and its symptoms.

Solomon Tesfaye, MD, of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals National Health System Foundation Trust, and colleagues found changes within the central nervous system (CNS) were associated with the development of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), according to a press release.
According to the release, about 25% of people with diabetes have symptoms of DPN, including progressive and severe pain and insensitivity to trauma, leading to an increased risk of foot ulcers, infections and amputation.

Tesfaye and colleagues used advanced MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques in their study. They reported a number of findings suggesting CNS plays a role in the development of DNP, including: differences in the cross-sectional area of the spinal cord, particularly before DNP symptoms appear; atrophy in the primary sensory cortex; differences in blood supply in the thalamus; changes in the brain areas thought to be involved in detecting the location and intensity of pain, as well as emotional responses; and reductions in the brain grey matter, particularly in areas that process somatosensory perceptions.

Tesfaye and colleagues reported further studies could help clarify the nature of CNS involvement in DPN and lead to the development of more rational therapies for patients with DPN.


Tesfaye S, et al. PAIN. 2016;doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000465.

Disclosure: See the study for a full list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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