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Páll Karlsson

Analysis of Macrophages and Peptidergic Fibers in the Skin of Patients With Painful Diabetic Polyneuropathy

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The mechanisms of pain in patients with diabetic polyneuropathy are unknown. Studies have suggested a role of inflammation and increased neuropeptides peripherally in pain generation. This study examined the possible skin markers of painful diabetic polyneuropathy (P-DPN): macrophages, substance P (SP), and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).

METHODS: The participants were included from a large Danish cross-sectional clinical study of type 2 diabetes. We diagnosed definite diabetic polyneuropathy using the Toronto criteria and used the Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group classification for defining P-DPN. We included 60 skin biopsies from patients with diabetic polyneuropathy-30 with P-DPN and 30 with nonpainful diabetic polyneuropathy (NP-DPN)-and 30 biopsies from healthy controls of similar age and sex. The biopsies were stained using PGP 9.5, IbA1, and SP and CGRP primary markers.

RESULTS: There was increased macrophage density in patients with P-DPN (8.0%) compared with that in patients with NP-DPN (5.1%, p < 0.001), and there was increased macrophage density in patients with NP-DPN (5.1%) compared with that in healthy controls (3.1%, p < 0.001). When controlling for neuropathy severity, body mass index, age, and sex, there was still a difference in macrophage density between patients with P-DPN and patients with NP-DPN. Patients with P-DPN had higher median nerve fiber length density (274.5 and 155 mm-2 for SP and CGRP, respectively) compared with patients with NP-DPN (176 and 121 mm-2 for SP and CGRP, respectively, p = 0.009 and 0.04) and healthy controls (185.5 and 121.5 mm-2 for SP and CGRP, respectively), whereas there was no difference between patients with NP-DPN and controls without diabetes (p = 0.64 and 0.49, respectively). The difference between P-DPN and NP-DPN for SP and CGRP was significant only in female patients, although a trend was seen in male patients.

DISCUSSION: The findings point to a possible involvement of the innate immune system in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain in patients with DPN, although markers of activated macrophages were not measured in this study.

TidsskriftNeurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2022

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