Structural Changes of Cutaneous Immune Cells in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes and Their Relationship With Diabetic Polyneuropathy

Xiaoli Hu, Christian S. Buhl, Marie B. Sjogaard, Karoline Schousboe, Hatice I. Mizrak, Huda Kufaishi, Christian S. Hansen, Knud B. Yderstræde, Troels S. Jensen, Jens R. Nyengaard, Pall Karlsson

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) is a complication of diabetes characterized by pain or lack of peripheral sensation, but the underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood. Recent evidence showed increased cutaneous macrophage infiltration in patients with type 2 diabetes and painful DPN, and this study aimed to understand whether the same applies to type 1 diabetes. METHODS: The study included 104 participants: 26 healthy controls and 78 participants with type 1 diabetes (participants without DPN [n = 24], participants with painless DPN [n = 29], and participants with painful DPN [n = 25]). Two immune cells, dermal IBA1+ macrophages and epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs, CD207+), were visualized and quantified using immunohistological labeling and stereological counting methods on skin biopsies from the participants. The IBA1+ macrophage infiltration, LC number density, LC soma cross-sectional area, and LC processes were measured in this study. RESULTS: Significant difference in IBA1+ macrophage expression was seen between the groups (p = 0.003), with lower expression of IBA1 in participants with DPN. No differences in LC morphologies (LC number density, soma cross-sectional area, and process level) were found between the groups (all p > 0.05). In addition, IBA1+ macrophages, but not LCs, correlated with intraepidermal nerve fiber density, Michigan neuropathy symptom inventory, (questionnaire and total score), severity of neuropathy as assessed by the Toronto clinical neuropathy score, and vibration detection threshold in the whole study cohort. DISCUSSION: This study showed expressional differences of cutaneous IBA1+ macrophages but not LC in participants with type 1 diabetes-induced DPN compared with those in controls. The study suggests that a reduction in macrophages may play a role in the development and progression of autoimmune-induced diabetic neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurology(R) neuroimmunology & neuroinflammation
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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