Growth factors as therapeutics for diabetic neuropathy

Curr Drug Targets. 2008 Jan;9(1):47-59. doi: 10.2174/138945008783431727.


There has been a rapid growth in appreciation of the diverse array of neurotrophic factors, growth factors and other biological molecules that have the capacity to support adult neurons and direct reparative processes after injury to the nervous system. Understanding the mechanisms by which these factors operate offers the opportunity to use either the factors themselves or other agents that manipulate relevant signal transduction pathways as therapeutics for a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases, including diabetic neuropathy. In this review, we aim to summarize current knowledge of the extent to which loss of neurotrophic support contributes to the pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy, present pre-clinical evidence that supports the potential efficacy of growth factors or their mimetics against indices of diabetic neuropathy and highlight the emerging approaches to manipulating neuronal support mechanisms that show potential for translation to clinical use. Recent advances in directly assessing the progression of nerve damage in diabetic patients will hopefully facilitate renewed clinical evaluation of treatments for degenerative diabetic neuropathy and provide the framework for advancing the potential of growth factors as a therapy for this widespread and currently untreatable condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Growth Substances / pharmacology*
  • Growth Substances / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction


  • Growth Substances
  • Insulin
  • Nerve Growth Factors