Clinical, electrophysiological and ultrastractural morphometric observations were made in 5 diabetic non-neuropathic patients, 5 diabetic patients with mild neuropathy and 11 diabetic patients with severe neuropathy. Capillary abnormalities were assessed in simultaneous nerve, muscle and skin biopsies and compared with results from 6 age-matched, non-diabetic control subjects. Nerve capillaries demonstrated markedly greater pathology than skin and muscle capillaries. Endoneurial capillary density was significantly reduced in severely neuropathic diabetic patients (p<0.01) when compared with control subjects. Capillary basement membrane (p<0.002), endothelial cell (p<0.003) and total diffusion barrier (endothelial cell, pericyte, basement membrane) (p<0.001) thickness were significantly increased, and oxygen diffusing capacity was significantly reduced (p<0.001) in the nerves of patients with severe diabetic neuropathy when compared to control subjects. Endothelial cell profile number and luminal perimeter were significantly increased in asymptomatic (p<0.01), (p<0.05) and severely neuropathic (p<0.001), (p<0.05) diabetic patients respectively. However, endothelial cell outer perimeter, a measure of capillary size, showed no significant increase in diabetic patients when compared with control subjects. An association was observed between neurophysiological and neuropathological measures of neuropathic severity. There was no significant correlation between the duration of diabetes and HbA1 levels with capillary pathology or with neuropathic severity. Very few abnormalities of muscle and skin correlated with neuropathic severity. However, all measures of nerve capillary pathology correlated significantly with neurophysiological and neuropathological measures of neuropathic severity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism