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.

"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 July 25, 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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