Eva Feldman, MD, PhD and Rodica Pop-Busui, MD, PhD: Elevated Triglyceride Levels and Nerve Loss
By: Felicia Breedy
American Diabetes Association funded researchers, Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, (Basic Science Award) and Rodica Pop-Busui, MD, PhD, (Clinical/Translational Award) have found that elevated levels of triglycerides (stored fat used for energy) can be used as a predictor of nerve loss (neuropathy) in persons with diabetes. Elevated triglyceride levels in the blood are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and are one of the most common features of lipid disorders in those with type 2 diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and affects about 60 percent of those with diabetes. Their research was highlighted May 16, 2009 in the online issue of HealthNewsDigest.com.
In their study, Drs. Feldman and Pop-Busui analyzed data from a previous trial that investigated a drug to relieve neuropathy. Although the drug was determined to be ineffective, the data revealed potential clues to nerve loss. Comparing the data related to lipids and blood glucose, they determined that there were elevated levels of triglycerides in those with diabetes who had worsening neuropathy symptoms over a period of a year. Triglyceride levels were a more accurate predictor compared to all other measures.
Results from this study are beneficial to clinicians and patients alike. Since triglycerides are routinely measured during blood testing, it can be used as a readily available predictor of nerve damage. Patients can take action to reduce their triglyceride levels by avoiding harmful foods and participating in a regular exercise routine. The study also confirms a growing belief among diabetes researchers that elevated blood levels of certain lipids, in addition to blood sugar levels, are important in the development of diabetic neuropathy.
This study is published ahead of print, online in the journal Diabetes and will be available in the July 2009 print edition.
(Wiggin TD, Sullivan KA, Pop-Busui R, Amato A, Sima AA, Feldman EL. Elevated Triglycerides Correlate with Progression of Diabetic Neuropathy. Diabetes. 2009 May 1. [Epub ahead of print])
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