Impaired Nociception in the Diabetic Ins2+/Akita Mouse

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The mechanisms responsible for painful and insensate diabetic neuropathy are not completely understood. Here, we have investigated sensory neuropathy in the Ins2+/Akita mouse, a hereditary model of diabetes. Akita mice become diabetic soon after weaning, and we show that this is accompanied by an impaired mechanical and thermal nociception and a significant loss of intraepidermal nerve fibers. Electrophysiological investigations of skin-nerve preparations identified a reduced rate of action potential discharge in Ins2+/Akita mechanonociceptors compared to wildtype littermates, whereas the function of low threshold A-fibers was essentially intact. Studies of isolated sensory neurons demonstrated a markedly reduced heat responsiveness in Ins2+/Akita DRG neurons, but a mostly unchanged function of cold sensitive neurons. Restoration of normal glucose control by islet transplantation produced a rapid recovery of nociception, which occurred before normoglycemia had been achieved. Islet transplantation also restored Ins2+/Akita intraepidermal nerve fiber density to the same level as wildtype mice, indicating that restored insulin production can reverse both sensory and anatomical abnormalities of diabetic neuropathy in mice. The reduced rate of action potential discharge in nociceptive fibers and the impaired heat responsiveness of Ins2+/Akita DRG neurons suggests that ionic sensory transduction and transmission mechanisms are modified by diabetes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdb171306
Issue number8
Early online date6 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy
  • Nociceptors
  • Mice


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