Sensory neuron diseases

Lancet Neurol. 2005 Jun;4(6):349-61. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(05)70096-X.


Sensory neuron diseases (SND) are a distinct subgroup of peripheral-nervous-system diseases, first acknowledged in 1948. Acquired SND have a subacute or chronic course and are associated with systemic immune-mediated diseases, vitamin intoxication or deficiency, neurotoxic drugs, and life-threatening diseases such as cancer. SND are commonly idiopathic but can be genetic diseases; the latter tend to involve subtypes of sensory neurons and are associated with certain clinical pictures. The loss of sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia causes the degeneration of short and long peripheral axons and central sensory projections in the posterior columns. This pathological process leads to a pattern of sensory nerve degeneration that is not length dependent and explains distinct clinical and neurophysiological abnormalities. Here we propose a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis of acquired and hereditary SND and discuss clinical, genetic, neurophysiological, neuroradiological, and neuropathological assessments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ganglia, Spinal / pathology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / pathology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology