OCT 03, 2022 10:17 AM PDT

Could Blood Samples Detect the Risk of Peripheral Neuropathy in Type 2 Diabetes?

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that impacts the body’s ability to respond to insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows blood sugar to enter the body’s cells and provide energy. People with type 2 diabetes develop insulin resistance, meaning the pancreas continues to make insulin even when it is unnecessary, resulting in high blood sugar levels. 

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition affecting over 30 million Americans annually. High blood sugar can damage the body and lead to an array of health problems, including heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. Peripheral neuropathy, which manifests as a loss of sensation or pain, is another potential complication of type 2 diabetes. 

Peripheral neuropathy is a difficult symptom to manage. Typically, type 2 diabetes is managed by controlling glucose in the diet. Peripheral neuropathy is still seen in many individuals with type 2 diabetes, even with a switch to healthy diet options. 

Past research has shown that there are risk factors for developing peripheral neuropathy outside of blood sugar levels. These risk factors include obesity and dyslipidemia (an imbalance of lipids such as cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, (LDL-C), triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)). 

Researchers are working to identify additional risk factors for developing peripheral neuropathy. A recent study from Michigan Medicine, published in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, finds multiple lipid biomarkers linked to neuropathy development in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers analyzed blood serum samples from 70 individuals with type 2 diabetes. They looked at 435 different types of lipids and found that certain changes in lipids were associated with the development of peripheral neuropathy. 

Eva L. Feldman, senior author of the study, notes that “we have the potential to test for these lipid biomarkers in patients with type 2 diabetes to identify those with the highest risk of developing peripheral neuropathy and facilitate more focused management of those patients.”

These results could provide a method for assessing the risk of developing peripheral neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes. Future research could also result in targeted therapies for peripheral neuropathy. 

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
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