New perspectives in diabetic neuropathy

Neuron. 2023 Sep 6;111(17):2623-2641. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2023.05.003. Epub 2023 May 31.


Diabetes prevalence continues to climb with the aging population. Type 2 diabetes (T2D), which constitutes most cases, is metabolically acquired. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), the most common microvascular complication, is length-dependent damage to peripheral nerves. DPN pathogenesis is complex, but, at its core, it can be viewed as a state of impaired metabolism and bioenergetics failure operating against the backdrop of long peripheral nerve axons supported by glia. This unique peripheral nerve anatomy and the injury consequent to T2D underpins the distal-to-proximal symptomatology of DPN. Earlier work focused on the impact of hyperglycemia on nerve damage and bioenergetics failure, but recent evidence additionally implicates contributions from obesity and dyslipidemia. This review will cover peripheral nerve anatomy, bioenergetics, and glia-axon interactions, building the framework for understanding how hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia induce bioenergetics failure in DPN. DPN and painful DPN still lack disease-modifying therapies, and research on novel mechanism-based approaches is also covered.

Keywords: bioenergetics; diabetes; dyslipidemia; hyperglycemia; metabolic syndrome; mitochondria; obesity; pathophysiology; peripheral neuropathy; prediabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / metabolism
  • Diabetic Neuropathies* / metabolism
  • Dyslipidemias* / complications
  • Dyslipidemias* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia* / complications
  • Hyperglycemia* / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nerves