OBJECTIVE The aim of this study was to elucidate whether subclinical nerve dysfunction as reflected by neurophysiological testing predicts the development of clinical neuropathy in patients with type 1 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Fifty-nine patients were studied twice with neurophysiological measurements at baseline and at follow-up. At baseline, patients were 15.5 ± 3.22 years (range 7–22 years) of age, and duration of diabetes was 6.8 ± 3.3 years. At follow-up, patients were 20–35 years of age, and disease duration was 20 ± 5.3 years (range 10–31 years).
RESULTS At baseline, patients showed modestly reduced nerve conduction velocities and amplitudes compared with healthy subjects, but all were free of clinical neuropathy. At follow-up, clinical neuropathy was present in nine (15%) patients. These patients had a more pronounced reduction in peroneal motor nerve conduction velocity (MCV), median MCV, and sural sensory nerve action potential at baseline (P < 0.010–0.003). In simple logistic regression analyses, the predictor with the strongest association with clinical neuropathy was baseline HbA1c (R2 = 48%, odds ratio 7.9, P < 0.002) followed by peroneal MCV at baseline (R2 = 38%, odds ratio 0.6, P < 0.006). With the use of a stepwise forward analysis that included all predictors, first baseline HbA1c and then only peroneal MCV at baseline entered significantly (R2 = 61%). Neuropathy impairment assessment showed a stronger correlation with baseline HbA1c (ρ = 0.40, P < 0.002) than with follow-up HbA1c (ρ = 0.034, P < 0.007).
CONCLUSIONS Early defects in nerve conduction velocity predict the development of diabetic neuropathy. However, the strongest predictor was HbA1c during the first years of the disease.
- Received October 30, 2012.
- Accepted March 30, 2013.
- © 2013 by the American Diabetes Association.
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