Bariatric Surgery Restores Cardiac and Sudomotor Autonomic C-Fiber Dysfunction towards Normal in Obese Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes

PLoS One. 2016 May 3;11(5):e0154211. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154211. eCollection 2016.


Objective: The aim was to evaluate the impact of bariatric surgery on cardiac and sudomotor autonomic C-fiber function in obese subjects with and without Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), using sudorimetry and heart rate variability (HRV) analysis.

Method: Patients were evaluated at baseline, 4, 12 and 24 weeks after vertical sleeve gastrectomy or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. All subjects were assessed using SudoscanTM to measure electrochemical skin conductance (ESC) of hands and feet, time and frequency domain analysis of HRV, Neurologic Impairment Scores of lower legs (NIS-LL), quantitative sensory tests (QST) and sural nerve conduction studies.

Results: Seventy subjects completed up to 24-weeks of follow-up (24 non-T2DM, 29 pre-DM and 17 T2DM). ESC of feet improved significantly towards normal in T2DM subjects (Baseline = 56.71±3.98 vs 12-weeks = 62.69±3.71 vs 24-weeks = 70.13±2.88, p<0.005). HRV improved significantly in T2DM subjects (Baseline sdNN (sample difference of the beat to beat (NN) variability) = 32.53±4.28 vs 12-weeks = 44.94±4.18 vs 24-weeks = 49.71±5.19, p<0,001 and baseline rmsSD (root mean square of the difference of successive R-R intervals) = 23.88±4.67 vs 12-weeks = 38.06±5.39 vs 24-weeks = 43.0±6.25, p<0.0005). Basal heart rate (HR) improved significantly in all groups, as did weight, body mass index (BMI), percent body fat, waist circumference and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), insulin and HOMA2-IR (homeostatic model assessment) levels improved significantly in pre-DM and T2DM subjects. On multiple linear regression analysis, feet ESC improvement was independently associated with A1C, insulin and HOMA2-IR levels at baseline, and improvement in A1C at 24 weeks, after adjusting for age, gender and ethnicity. Sudomotor function improvement was not associated with baseline weight, BMI, % body fat or lipid levels. Improvement in basal HR was also independently associated with A1C, insulin and HOMA2-IR levels at baseline.

Conclusion: This study shows that bariatric surgery can restore both cardiac and sudomotor autonomic C-fiber dysfunction in subjects with diabetes, potentially impacting morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / surgery*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sweat Glands / physiopathology*
  • Treatment Outcome

Grants and funding

This study was performed with a grant from Impeto Medical. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.