Changes in peripheral nerves of rats four months after induction of streptozotocin diabetes. A qualitative and quantitative study

Acta Neuropathol. 1981;54(2):129-34. doi: 10.1007/BF00689405.


Eight streptozotocin-injected Wistar rats and eight controls were fixed by whole-body perfusion 4 months after beginning of the experiment, the nervus radialis was dissected and processed for light and electron microscopy. After light-microscopic study standard photographs of nerve cross sections were measured by means of a semiautomatic image analyzer. The following measurements were obtained: (1) surface of fibers, axons, and myelin sheaths, (2) ratio of myelin to axon surface, and (3) percent of endoneural space. Group means and standard deviations were calculated, and cumulated size class distributions were made. Representative nerve specimens from all animals were also studied by electron microscopy. The quantitative study revealed in the diabetics a severe reduction of the average myelin surface, a mild increase of axonal cross section and of endoneural space, a reduction of myelin/axon ratio and a mild reduction in cross section of the nerve. Ultrastructural lesions of minor degree were found in the cytoplasm of Schwann and mesenchymal cells, no lesion was observed in axons. These findings demonstrate the presence of neuropathy 4 months after induction of diabetes and support the pathogenetic role of the Schwann cell in our experimental model.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Peripheral Nerves / ultrastructure*
  • Radial Nerve / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Schwann Cells / ultrastructure