The central nervous system plays a key role in the development of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), a new study reports.
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage which can be caused in both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The term peripheral neuropathy refers to nerve damage affecting any nerve outside of the brain or spinal cord.
Lead author Solomon Tesfaye, MD, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals National Health System Foundation Trust, and colleagues used advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques to assess patients with DPN.
In their study, published in PAIN, the researchers noted: “Several recent studies have implicated poor glycemic control, duration of diabetes, hyperlipidemia (particularly hypertriglyceridaemia), elevated albumin excretion rates, and obesity as risk factors for the development of DPN.”
Using the imaging techniques, they discovered that the central nervous system might play a role in the development of DNP, particularly before symptoms appear and through changes in the brain areas thought to be involved in detecting the location and intensity of pain.
The researchers now hope further studies can validate the involvement of the central nervous system in DPN. If they do so, this could lead to the development of additional therapies for people with DPN.
Diabetic neuropathy is more common among people who have had diabetes for a longer time, but keeping your blood glucose levels, weight and blood pressure all under control can help reduce your risk. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and limiting your alcohol intake can also be beneficial.

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