What is the association between type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) and small-fiber neuropathy?

Updated: Oct 08, 2021
  • Author: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Type 1 diabetic patients also have a high prevalence of small-fiber neuropathy. [69, 70] In a prospective study of 27 patients who had type 1 diabetes with a mean disease duration of 40 years, almost 60% of the subjects showed signs or symptoms of neuropathy, including sensory neuropathy symptoms (9 patients), pain (3 patients), and carpal-tunnel symptoms (5 patients). [69, 70] Of the 27 patients, 22 were diagnosed with small-fiber dysfunction by means of quantitative sensory testing.

Abnormal results on intraepidermal nerve-fiber density measurement (IENFD) were seen in 19 patients. [70] IENFD was negatively correlated with HbA1c, but this relation was no longer significant after adjustment for age, body mass index, and height. N-ε-(carboxymethyl) lysine (CML), which is linked to painful diabetic neuropathy, remained independently associated with IENFD even after adjustment for these variables. Large-fiber neuropathy was also common, being found in 16 patients.

Although ESRD is one of the most severe complications of type 1 DM, its incidence is relatively low: 2.2% at 20 years after diagnosis and 7.8% at 30 years after diagnosis. [71] A greater risk is that mild diabetic nephropathy in type 1 diabetic persons appears to be associated with an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease. [72] Moreover, the long-term risk of an impaired glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is lower in persons treated with intense insulin therapy early in the course of disease than in those given conventional therapy. [73]

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