Diabetics often develop a problem with the nerves that control internal body functions, known as diabetic autonomic neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy is a common and serious complication of diabetes, one that increases the risk of death. Effective treatments are limited by a lack of any clear understanding of what causes the problem.
Now, European researchers report that so-called self or autoantibodies that attack the body’s own nerve cells are associated with the subsequent development of autonomic neuropathy in diabetic patients.
Among a group of type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetic patients, more than half had autonomic nerve autoantibodies and these patients had a greater than sevenfold increased risk of developing autonomic neuropathy, stated Dr. Viktoria Granber
These observations suggest that autonomic neuropathy in type 1 diabetes may have an autoimmune background, Granberg of Malmo University Hospital in Sweden and colleagues conclude.
Their study is published in this month’s issue of Diabetes Care.

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