Impaired Glycemia and Diabetic Polyneuropathy

The OC IG Survey

  1. William J. Litchy, MD1
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  3. 3Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism & Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  4. 4Division of Epidemiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  5. 5Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  6. 6Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  1. Corresponding author: Peter J. Dyck, dyck.peter{at}


OBJECTIVE To test whether diabetic polyneuropathies (DPNs), retinopathy, or nephropathy is more prevalent in subjects with impaired glycemia (IG) (abnormality of impaired fasting glucose [IFG], impaired glucose tolerance [IGT], or impaired HbA1c [IA1C]) than in healthy subjects (non-IG).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Matched IG and non-IG volunteers were randomly identified from population-based diagnostic and laboratory registries, restudied, and reclassified as non-IG (n = 150), IG (n = 174), or new diabetes (n = 218).

RESULTS Frequency (%) of DPN in non-IG, IG, and new diabetes was 3 (2.0%), 3 (1.7%), and 17 (7.8%) narrowly defined (no other cause for polyneuropathy) and 19 (12.7%), 22 (12.6%), and 38 (17.4%) broadly defined. Mean and frequency distribution of composite scores of nerve conduction and quantitative sensation tests were not significantly different between IG and non-IG but were worse in new diabetes. Frequency of retinopathy and nephropathy was significantly increased only in new diabetes. In secondary analysis, small but significant increases in retinopathy and nephropathy were found in IGT, IFG, and IGT combined groups.

CONCLUSIONS In population studies of Olmsted County, Minnesota, inhabitants, prevalence of typical DPN, retinopathy, and nephropathy was significantly increased only in subjects with new diabetes—not in subjects with IG as defined by American Diabetes Association (ADA) criteria of abnormality of IFG, IGT, or IA1C. For atypical DPN, such an increase was not observed even in subjects with new diabetes. In medical practice, explanations other than IG should be sought for patients with atypical DPN (chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy) who have IG.


  • Received July 28, 2011.
  • Accepted November 14, 2011.

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