Mechanism Behind Diabetes Related Neuropathy Found

New research has shown that a key enzyme in peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy is also active in peripheral neuropathy (PN) owed to diabetes.

This means the two potential drugs that researchers identified to treat chemotherapy-induced PN might also be used for diabetes-related PN.

“The identification of [an enzyme] underlying glucose-induced peripheral neuropathy means that millions of patients could potentially benefit from the development of drugs that influence this pathway,” said Kevin Strange, Ph.D., president of the MDI Biological Laboratory.

In their earlier studies Sandra Rieger, Ph.D. and her team pinpointed two compounds that prevent and reverse PN triggered by a common chemotherapy agent called Taxol, or paclitaxel. More recently, the team found one of these compounds effectively prevented glucose-induced PN in two mammals, mice and zebrafish.

“The fact that this compound works in two such disparate species makes it more likely it will work in humans too,” says Rieger.

Discovering the treatment compound followed a realization that chemo-induced PN was owed to the increase of an enzyme called MMP-13. This enzyme breaks down the collagen that binds skin cells together. Rieger thinks the collagen breakdown causes the deterioration of threadlike nerve endings conveying sensory information to the skin.

Later, Rieger found the same enzyme pathway is active in glucose-related PN, and discovered that oxidative stress causes the MMP-13 to increase. She determined that using an anti-oxidant compound to inhibit oxidative stress prevents both MMP-13 activation and nerve damage.

Rieger and colleagues are continuing to study the mechanisms behind glucose-related PN, and hope to determine more effective variations of the drug compounds discovered.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: MDI Biological Laboratory

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