Microvasculitis in non-diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy (LSRPN): similarity to the diabetic variety (DLSRPN)

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2000 Jun;59(6):525-38. doi: 10.1093/jnen/59.6.525.


Diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy (DLSRPN) has been shown to be due to ischemic injury from microvasculitis. The present study tests whether ischemic injury and microvasculitis are the pathologic cause of non-diabetic lumbosacral radiculoplexus neuropathy (LSRPN), and whether the pathologic alterations are different between LSRPN and DLSRPN. We studied distal cutaneous nerve biopsies of 47 patients with LSRPN and compared findings with those of 14 age-matched healthy controls and 33 DLSRPN patients. In both disease conditions, we found evidence of ischemic injury (multifocal fiber degeneration and loss, perineurial degeneration and scarring, characteristic fiber alterations, neovascularization, and injury neuroma) that we attribute to microvasculitis (mural and perivascular mononuclear inflammation of microvessels, inflammatory separation, fragmentation and destruction of mural smooth muscle, and previous microscopic bleeding [hemosiderin]). Teased nerve fibers in LSRPN showed significantly increased frequencies of axonal degeneration, segmental demyelination, and empty nerve strands. The segmental demyelination appeared to be clustered on fibers with axonal dystrophy. The nerves with abnormal frequencies of demyelination were significantly associated with nerves showing multifocal fiber loss. We reached the following conclusions: 1) LSRPN is a serious condition with much morbidity that mirrors DLSRPN. 2) Ischemic injury from microvasculitis appears to be the cause of LSRPN. 3) Axonal degeneration and segmental demyelination appear to be linked and due to ischemia. 4) The pathologic alterations in LSRPN and DLSRPN are indistinguishable, raising the question whether these 2 conditions have a common underlying mechanism, and whether diabetes mellitus contributes to the pathology or is a risk factor in DLSRPN. 5) Both LSRPN and DLSRPN are potentially treatable conditions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Axons / pathology
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / pathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Ischemia / pathology
  • Lumbosacral Plexus* / pathology
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Vasculitis / complications*
  • Vasculitis / pathology*