Comparable myelinated nerve pathology in feline and human diabetes mellitus

Andrew P. Mizisin, Richard W Nelson, Beverly Sturges, Karen Vernau, Richard A Lecouteur, D. Colette Williams, Monica L. Burgers, G. Diane Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The occurrence of diabetic neuropathy in cats provides an opportunity to study the development and treatment of neurological complications not present in diabetic rodent models, where few pathological alterations are evident. The present study further defines pathological alterations in nerve biopsies from 12 cats with spontaneously occurring diabetes mellitus. Peroneal nerve biopsies displayed concurrent injury to both Schwann cells and axons of myelinated fibers that was remarkably similar to that present in human diabetic neuropathy. In addition to demyelination, remyelination (constituting 20-84% of the total myelinated fiber population) was indicated by fibers with inappropriately thin myelin sheaths. Unlike our previous investigations, striking axonal injury was apparent, and consisted of dystrophic accumulations of membranous debris or neurofilaments, as well as degenerative fiber loss resulting in a 50% decrease in myelinated fiber density. In spite of extensive fiber loss, regenerative clusters were apparent, suggesting that axonal regeneration was not completely frustrated. These data highlight the potential utility of feline diabetic neuropathy as a model that faithfully replicates the nerve injury in human diabetes mellitus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-442
Number of pages12
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Axon-Schwann-cell networks
  • Axonal degeneration
  • Axonal regeneration
  • Feline diabetic neuropathy
  • Remyelination
  • Segmental demyelination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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