Hypoglycaemia causes degeneration of large myelinated nerve fibres in the vagus nerve of insulin-treated diabetic BB/Wor rats.Acta Neuropathol 2005; 109(2):198-206AN
The aim of this study was to find out whether dysglycaemia causes neuropathy in the vagus nerve of insulin-treated diabetic BB/Wor rats. Specimens were collected from the left vagus nerve proximal and distal to the level of recurrent laryngeal branch and from the recurrent branch itself in control rats and diabetic BB/Wor rats subjected to hyper- or hypoglycaemia. Myelinated and unmyelinated axons were counted and myelinated axon diameters were measured by electron microscopy. In controls, the vagus nerve proximal to the recurrent branch exhibited three regions in terms of fibre composition: part A was mainly composed of large myelinated axons, part B contained small myelinated and unmyelinated axons, and part C contained mainly unmyelinated axons. The distal level resembled part C at the proximal level and the recurrent branch resembled parts A and B. In hyperglycaemic rats, a normal picture was found at the proximal and distal levels of the vagus nerve and in the recurrent branch. In hypoglycaemic rats, signs of past and ongoing degeneration and regeneration of large myelinated axons were found at the proximal and distal levels and in the recurrent branch. We conclude that hypoglycaemia elicits degenerative alterations in large myelinated axons in the vagus and recurrent laryngeal nerves in diabetic BB/Wor rats. The absence of signs of neuropathy in unmyelinated and small myelinated axons suggests that the sensory and autonomic components of the nerve are less affected. In contrast, the hyperglycaemic rats examined here did not show obvious degenerative alterations.