Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to peripheral nerves and is often accompanied by pain in affected limbs. Treatment represents an unmet medical need and a thorough understanding of the mechanisms underlying axonal injury is needed. Longer nerve fibers tend to degenerate first (length-dependence), and patients carrying pathogenic mutations throughout life usually become symptomatic in mid- or late-life (time-dependence). The activity of voltage-gated sodium channels can contribute to axonal injury and sodium channel gain-of-function mutations have been linked to peripheral neuropathy. Recent studies have implicated sodium channel activity, mitochondrial compromise, and reverse-mode Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchange in time- and length-dependent axonal injury. Elucidation of molecular mechanisms underlying axonal injury in peripheral neuropathy may provide new therapeutic strategies for this painful and debilitating condition.
Keywords: axonal degeneration; bioenergetics; mitochondria; neuropathy; sodium channel.
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