In a new study published in the journal Diabetes, elevated triglycerides were associated with the progression of diabetic neuropathy (1). Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is an abnormality of the nervous system which occurs as a result of diabetes and causes a loss of sensation in the feet and the legs. Although there are many theories for it’s development, the most commonly accepted theories are based on elevated blood sugar affecting the nerves and the loss of small vessel blood flow to the nerves, resulting in nerve dysfunction. New research finds that triglycerides were an active predictor of nerve damage in diabetes. The researchers evaluated 427 diabetic patients with neuropathy by measuring the fiber density, the speed the nerve signals travel and the vibration threshold in the sural nerve, a nerve on the outside of the leg. The measurements were taken at baseline and repeated after one year. The duration of diabetes, active treatment of diabetes or body mass index were not associated with progression and worsening of neuropathy. But, those individuals who had elevated triglycerides at baseline experienced progression of the neuropathy as compared to those who had normal triglyceride levels at baseline. The authors concluded that triglyceride levels can be used as a predictor of neuropathy progression in diabetics. Past case reports have shown an association between neuropathy and hyperlipemia (high triglycerides) and resolution of the neuropathy when the hyperlipemia was corrected (2). This study did not evaluate whether reduction of hyperlipidemia would decrease neuropathy progression or whether triglycerides play an active role in the development of neuropathy in diabetes. The authors stated that the study findings reinforced the link between cardiovascular disease and peripheral neuropathy.
More on diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
1. Wiggin TD et al. Elevated Triglycerides Correlate with Progression of Diabetic Neuropathy. Diabetes published online, May 1, 2009, as db08-1771.
2. McManis PG et al. Neuropathy associated with hyperlipidemia. Neurology 1994;44:2185.
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