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Subclinical diabetic neuropathy: similarities between electrophysiological results of patients with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus

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Type 1 (insulin-dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetic patients share many clinical and biochemical characteristics. However, sural nerve biopsies from patients with advanced and chronic neuropathy show ultrastructural differences between these two groups. We investigated whether at a subclinical stage of the illness, when Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic patients are clinically uniform and the histopathological nerve alterations are not advanced, comparison between the two diabetes groups might show differences in nerve fibre involvement related to the different pathogeneses of the neuropathies. A total of 88 diabetic patients (52 Type 1 and 36 Type 2), with a subclinical form of polyneuropathy were selected. The clinical neurophysiological examination consisted of motor and sensory nerve conduction studies, Hoffmann (H)-reflex, single fibre electromyography and static as well as dynamic pupillometry. With regard to clinical neurophysiological abnormalities, the severity of the polyneuropathy appeared to be equal in both groups. Despite the absence of clinical symptoms the neurophysiological abnormalities were pronounced and it was impossible to differentiate Type 1 diabetic patients from Type 2 diabetic patients on a clinical neurophysiology basis when correcting for differences in age, height, and duration of illness. In the Type 1 diabetic group as well as in the Type 2 diabetic group the autonomic nerve fibres and nerves in the legs were more frequently affected than the thick myelinated nerves in the arms. These findings do not support the assumption that there is a difference in the manifestation of polyneuropathy between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic patients.


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Hendriksen, P.H., Oey, P.L., Wieneke, G.H. et al. Subclinical diabetic neuropathy: similarities between electrophysiological results of patients with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. Diabetologia 35, 690–695 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00400264

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Key words

  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Type 1 (insulin-depend-ent) diabetes mellitus
  • Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus
  • comparative study