Mitochondrial dysfunction in diabetic neuropathy: a series of unfortunate metabolic events

Curr Diab Rep. 2015 Nov;15(11):89. doi: 10.1007/s11892-015-0671-9.


Diabetic neuropathy is a dying back neurodegenerative disease of the peripheral nervous system where mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated as an etiological factor. Diabetes (type 1 or type 2) invokes an elevation of intracellular glucose concentration simultaneously with impaired growth factor support by insulin, and this dual alteration triggers a maladaptation in metabolism of adult sensory neurons. The energy sensing pathway comprising the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)/sirtuin (SIRT)/peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator α (PGC-1α) signaling axis is the target of these damaging changes in nutrient levels, e.g., induction of nutrient stress, and loss of insulin-dependent growth factor support and instigates an aberrant metabolic phenotype characterized by a suppression of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and shift to anaerobic glycolysis. There is discussion of how this loss of mitochondrial function and transition to overreliance on glycolysis contributes to the diminishment of collateral sprouting and axon regeneration in diabetic neuropathy in the context of the highly energy-consuming nerve growth cone.

Keywords: Axon regeneration; Bioenergetics; Diabetic complications; Insulin; Nutrient stress; Sensory neuron.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Insulin