, Volume 34, Issue 11, pp 822–829 | Cite as

The natural history of somatosensory and autonomic nerve dysfunction in relation to glycaemic control during the first 5 years after diagnosis of Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus

  • D. Ziegler
  • P. Mayer
  • H. Mühlen
  • F. A. Gries


The natural evolution of neural dysfunction was studied prospectively over 5 years following diagnosis of Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes in 32 patients aged 12–36 years. Motor and sensory nerve conduction velocities, heart rate variation at rest and during deep breathing, and pupillary function were measured at diagnosis and after 3,12, 24,48, and 60 months. Thermal and vibration sensation thresholds were determined after 24, 48, and 60 months of diabetes. Mean HbA1 levels of months 3–60 within the normal range of <8.3% (7.3±0.2%) were observed in 13 patients (Group 1), while a mean HbA1 of months 3–60≥8.3% (10.0±0.3%) was found in 19 patients (Group 2). Mean nerve conduction was significantly diminished in Group 2 as compared with Group 1 in at least 4 out of 6 nerves tested during months 12–60 (p<0.05). Both tests of heart rate variation were significantly impaired in Group 2 as compared with Group 1 after 24 and 60 months (p<0.05), but no differences in pupillary function were observed between the groups. Thermal discrimination but not vibration perception thresholds on the foot were significantly higher in Group 2 than in Group 1 at 40 and 60 months (p<0.05). Abnormalities in nerve conduction, thermal discrimination, and heart rate variation, but not vibration perception threshold and the pupillary function tests were significantly more frequent in Group 2 than in Group 1 at 60 months (p<0.05). After 60 months, none of the patients of Group 1, but 6 and 4 patients of Group 2 developed subclinical or symptomatic neuropathy, respectively (p<0.05). These findings suggest that the evolution of subclinical and symptomatic neuropathy during the first 5 years after diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes may be predicted by poor glycaemic control and prevented by near-normoglycaemia.

Key words

Diabetic neuropathy glycaemic control nerve conduction autonomic function sensory thresholds 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Ziegler
    • 1
  • P. Mayer
    • 1
  • H. Mühlen
    • 1
  • F. A. Gries
    • 1
  1. 1.Diabetes Research InstituteHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfFRG

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