We compared a conventional method of measurement of sciatic motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity, with a novel procedure that measures conduction in an 8-mm segment of the rat sural nerve. Conventional procedures gave reductions in velocity of 20% and 14% for motor and sensory fibers, respectively, whereas sural sensory fibers showed a 40% reduction (P <0.05). Changes were attenuated by treatment with either an aldose reductase inhibitor or a gamma-linolenic acid-alpha-lipoic acid conjugate, such that values from conventional procedures were not significantly different from controls and the sural sensory deficit halved. Putative motor fibers of the sural nerve showed no conduction velocity deficit in diabetic rats. Measurement of chronaxie and rheobase in sural sensory fibers revealed mild reductions in excitability in diabetics, with prevention of the chronaxie change by the treatments. Thus, measurement of sensory conduction in distal nerve segments show more profound defects in diabetic rats and may give a truer picture of preventive drug efficacy.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.