by David Douglas

Last Updated: 2008-02-06 15:27:54 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Neurological evaluation of diabetics indicates that there is relationship between diminished vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and neuropathy, UK researchers report in the January issue of Diabetes Care.

"This is the first human study to support experimental studies in showing that a reduction in VEGF expression is associated with increasing nerve damage in diabetic patients," senior investigator Dr. Rayaz A. Malik told Reuters Health.

Dr. Malik of the University of Manchester and colleagues studied 53 diabetic patients and 12 non-diabetic controls. Of the diabetics, 12 had no neuropathy, 18 had mild neuropathy, 12 had moderate neuropathy and 11 had severe neuropathy.

Skin biopsies from the dorsum of the foot showed that intra-epidermal nerve fiber density decreased progressively as diabetic neuropathy increased.

Dermal blood flow in response to acetylcholine was significantly reduced in mild to moderate diabetics and the intensity of VEGF-A staining was significantly reduced in diabetics compared to controls. There was a positive correlation between VEGF-A expression and intra-epidermal nerve fiber density.

The reduction in VEGF expression, continued Dr. Malik, "thus provides a mechanism for nerve damage and hence a therapeutic target for the treatment of human diabetic neuropathy with VEGF."

Diabetes Care 2008;31:140-145.

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