Nerve growth factor administration protects against experimental diabetic sensory neuropathy

Stuart C. Apfel, Joseph C. Arezzo, Michael Brownlee, Howard Federoff, John A. Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

298 Scopus citations


Small fiber sensory neuropathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus. Currently there is no adequate therapy to prevent this often debilitating problem. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a protein that promotes the survival and integrity of a large percentage of sensory neurons including the small fiber pain transmitting neurons which are often prominently affected in diabetic neuropathy. We report here that exogenously administered NGF is capable of preventing the behavioral and biochemical manifestations of diabetic sensory neuropathy in a streptozocin induced rat model. NGF administration prevented the elevation of tailflick threshold (a measure of the rat's response to a thermal noxious stimulus) which occured in streptozocin-induced diabetic rats. Further, it prevented the induced reduction in levels of the neurpeptides substance P and calcitonin gene related peptide measured from cervical dorsal root ganglia. Finally, NGF did not ameliorate the prolonged latency of the compound action potentials measured from the caudal nerve of the tail. In view of these results, a clinical trial of NGF in diabetic neuropathy has now commenced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalBrain research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 1994


  • NGF
  • Neuropathy
  • Rat
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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