Impact of Peripheral Neuropathy on Bone Density in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes

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To investigate whether peripheral neuropathy (PN), as part of the microangiopathic complex, affects bone mineral density (BMD) of the peripheral or the axial skeleton in patients with type 1 diabetes.


Three study groups were examined. Group 1 comprised 21 males with type 1 diabetes and severe PN with a mean (range) duration of diabetes of 28 (9-59) years and an HbA1c of 8.2% (6.3-10.4). Group 2 comprised 21 male type 1 diabetic patients with absent or mild PN matched to patients of group 1 regarding age, weight, and duration of diabetes. Group 3 comprised 21 control subjects. BMD was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and by quantitative ultrasound of the calcaneus. PN was determined by biothesiometry. Levels of physical activity were assessed through guided questionnaires.


In group 1, BMD was significantly reduced at all measured sites, compared with an expected Z score of 0 (spine, -1.01 +/- 0.34; femur, -0.94 +/- 0.25; forearm, -1.10 +/- 0.36). To a lesser extent, but still significantly, group 2 also showed reduced BMD values (spine, -0.60 +/- 0.26; femur, -0.55 +/- 0.25; forearm, -1.05 +/- 0.36), whereas group 3 had normal BMD values (-0.23 +/- 0.25, -0.10 +/- 0.21, -0.07 +/- 0.25, respectively). Group 1 had lower mean BMD levels than group 2 and group 3 at all measured sites, but a significant difference was found only between groups 1 and 3 at the site of the femur (analysis of variance, P < 0.05). Broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) of the calcaneus was significantly reduced in group 1 compared with groups 2 and 3 (108 +/- 3 vs. 115 +/- 2 and 115 +/- 2). Significant correlations between all DEXA measurements and BUA were demonstrated in both groups 1 and 2 (r values between 0.54 and 0.75). No significant differences in physical activity levels or body composition were demonstrated between the two patient groups.


The present results suggest that in patients with type 1 diabetes, PN may be an independent risk factor for reduced BMD in the affected limbs as well as in the skeleton in general. Diabetes Care 22:827-831, 1999

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