Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Growth Factor Reverses Nerve Damage In Diabetic Animals

Date:
November 5, 1999
Source:
Washington University School Of Medicine
Summary:
A recent study reveals that long-term nerve damage in rats with diabetes can be reversed by treatment with an insulin-like protein. Because the damage mimics some of what's seen in people with diabetes, the results suggest that the protein could one day be used to prevent certain nerve complications of the disease.

St. Louis, Nov. 1, 1999 -- A recent study reveals that long-term nerve damage in rats with diabetes can be reversed by treatment with an insulin-like protein. Because the damage mimics some of what's seen in people with diabetes, the results suggest that the protein could one day be used to prevent certain nerve complications of the disease.

Related Articles


"You may be able to prevent some diabetic nerve complications, even in people who don't control their diabetes well," says Robert E. Schmidt, M.D., Ph.D. Schmidt is a professor of pathology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He also is lead author of an article about the study in this month's American Journal of Pathology.

As many as 60 percent of people with diabetes have some damage to the peripheral nervous system, which receives and sends messages to the hands, feet and other outlying sites in the body. Diabetic neuropathy also can occur in the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system, a specialized portion of the nervous system that controls involuntary reflexes. Such damage can produce complications such as irregularities in the control of blood pressure and bouts of diarrhea or constipation.

Nerve cells and their branch-like extensions called axons are vulnerable to abnormally high levels of glucose in the bloodstream that occur during diabetes. In the sympathetic nervous system, the outermost tips of axons swell into doorknob-like structures as a result. These nerve endings allow nerve cells to communicate with each other, and the swelling impedes this process. Schmidt studied the effect of an insulin-like growth factor called IGF-I on diabetic rats. His group examined the animals' sympathetic nervous tissue and determined that the neuropathy mimicked that seen in humans. "The parallels in the pathologic findings in diabetic humans and rats were so strong that we thought that similar processes were at work in rats' nerve cells as in humans with diabetes," Schmidt says.

After the rats had been diabetic for six months -- enough time for nerve damage to occur -- the researchers gave some of them daily injections of IGF-I for two months.

Compared with untreated counterparts, these rats had 80 percent fewer swollen nerve endings in the sympathetic nervous system. And the swelling tended to be less pronounced than in the untreated rats.

Schmidt is quick to note that swelling of nerve endings still occurs to a limited extent in rats treated with IGF-I. But he also has found that healthy rats develop the swellings in small numbers as they age. "A simplistic view is that diabetes might accelerate the aging of sympathetic nerve cells," he says.

He and his colleagues will evaluate the cellular changes occurring in diabetic rats to determine how the swelling occurs. They also will try to determine how IGF-I injections ameliorate the damage.

The growth factor doesn't stop diabetes in its tracks because treated animals are unable to control their blood-glucose levels. IGF-I treatment may instead compensate for the loss of a factor that keeps nerve cells healthy, or it may be a nourishing agent itself. "We have a sense of the potential relevance of the growth factor," Schmidt says. "Now we have to figure out how it works."

Researchers elsewhere are evaluating IGF-I in clinical trials on people with neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University School Of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University School Of Medicine. "A Growth Factor Reverses Nerve Damage In Diabetic Animals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991105074025.htm>.
Washington University School Of Medicine. (1999, November 5). A Growth Factor Reverses Nerve Damage In Diabetic Animals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991105074025.htm
Washington University School Of Medicine. "A Growth Factor Reverses Nerve Damage In Diabetic Animals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991105074025.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Americans Drink More in the Winter

Americans Drink More in the Winter

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) The BACtrack breathalyzer app analyzed Americans' blood alcohol content and found out a whole lot of interesting things about their drinking habits. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins