NSE, a Potential Biomarker, Is Closely Connected to Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

  1. Wang Hongxing, MD, PHD3
  1. 1Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China
  2. 2Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, The Affiliated Jiangsu Shengze Hospital, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
  3. 3Department of Rehabilitation, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China
  1. Corresponding author: Jianbo Li, ljbzjlx18{at}


OBJECTIVE To explore the relationship between serum neuron-specific enolase (NSE) levels and diabetic neuropathy.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Type 1 or 2 diabetic and healthy control subjects (n = 568) were randomly enrolled in a cross-sectional study. Diabetic neuropathy status was documented by the presence of clinical symptoms or signs, electromyography, quantitative sensory tests, and cardiac autonomic neuropathy tests. The severity of the neuropathy was staged by composite scores. Serum NSE was measured using electrochemiluminescence immunoassay. The demographic and clinical variables were obtained through an interviewer questionnaire.

RESULTS Serum NSE levels increased slightly in diabetic subjects compared with normal subjects (9.1 [1.5] vs. 8.7 [1.7], P = 0.037), and the levels increased greatly in diabetic subjects with neuropathy compared with those without (10.8 [2.8] vs. 9.1 [1.5], P = 0.000). The association of NSE with diabetic neuropathy was independent of the hyperglycemic state (fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, duration, and the type of diabetes) and other potential confounders affecting NSE levels (e.g., age, sex, and renal status) (odds ratio 1.48 [1.13–1.74], P = 0.001). In addition, NSE levels increased with and were closely correlated to the stages of neuropathy (r = 0.63 [0.52–0.74], P = 0.000). The optimal cutoff point for serum NSE levels to distinguish patients with diabetic neuropathy from those without was 10.10 μg/L, with a sensitivity of 66.3% and a specificity of 72.5%.

CONCLUSIONS Serum NSE levels are closely associated with peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetes. Future studies are warranted to clarify the relationship.

  • Received March 11, 2013.
  • Accepted May 6, 2013.

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