Aim: To identify the relationship between vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN).
Methods: Two hundred and twenty diabetic patients participated, 113 with DPN and 107 without DPN. All patients were also classified according to the four stages of DPN (no neuropathy: stage 0; asymptomatic neuropathy: stage 1; symptomatic neuropathy: stage 2; disabling neuropathy: stage 3). Serum VEGF concentration was measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and levels between the patients with and without DPN and also between the different stages of DPN, were compared.
Results: The mean serum VEGF level in all patients was 264.6 +/- 218.8 pg/ml. The mean serum VEGF level was higher in patients with DPN (310.1 +/- 224.3 pg/ml) than in the patients without DPN (216.5 +/- 204.0 pg/ml, P = 0.0014). Serum VEGF was higher in the 'symptomatic' stage (stage 2, 364.8 +/- 225.9 pg/ml) in comparison with the 'asymptomatic' (stage 1, 256.7 +/- 224.4 pg/ml, P = 0.015) and 'disabling' (stage 3, 180.3 +/- 109.4 pg/ml, P = 0.042) stages. The mean serum VEGF level in patients with diabetic retinopathy (261.1 +/- 210.6 pg/ml) and in patients with diabetic nephropathy (241.5 +/- 185.7 pg/ml) was not increased.
Conclusions: The serum VEGF level is increased in patients with DPN, particularly in patients in the neurologically active 'symptomatic' stage.