Impairment of Axonal Transport in Diabetes: Focus on the Putative Mechanisms Underlying Peripheral and Central Neuropathies

  • Filipa I. Baptista
  • Helena Pinheiro
  • Catarina A. Gomes
  • António F. Ambrósio


Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease with numerous complications that severely impact on the quality of life of patients. Different neuropathies may arise as complications associated with the nervous system, both peripherally and at the central level. The mechanisms behind these neuronal complications are far from being clarified, but axonal transport impairment, a vital process for neuronal physiology, has been described in the context of experimental diabetes. Alterations in neuronal cytoskeleton and motor proteins, deficits in ATP supply or neuroinflammation, as processes that disturb the effective transport of cargoes along the axon, were reported as putative causes of axonal impairment, ultimately leading to axonal degeneration. The main goal of the present review is to reunite the main studies in the literature exploring diabetes-induced alterations likely involved in axonal transport deficits, and call the attention for the uttermost importance of further exploring the field. Understanding the mechanisms underlying neuronal deficits in diabetes is crucial for the development of new therapeutic strategies to prevent neuronal degeneration in diabetes and related neuropathies.


Diabetes Axonal transport Cytoskeleton Kinesin Dynein Neurodegeneration 



Alzheimer’s disease


Adenosine triphosphate


Central nervous system


Dorsal root ganglion


Kinesin superfamily protein




Nerve growth factor




Peripheral nervous system


Tumor necrosis factor


Retinal ganglion cell


Superior colliculus





This work was supported by Foundation for Science and Technology (PEst UID/NEU/04539/2013), COMPETE-FEDER (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007440), and Centro 2020 Regional Operational Programme (CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-000008: BrainHealth 2020). Filipa I. Baptista acknowledges a fellowship from Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal (SFRH/BPD/86830/2012).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coimbra Institute for Clinical and Biomedical Research (iCBR), Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.CNC.IBILI ConsortiumUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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