Lipoic acid improves nerve blood flow, reduces oxidative stress, and improves distal nerve conduction in experimental diabetic neuropathy


Nagamatsu M




Diabetes Care


OBJECTIVE--To determine whether lipoic acid (LA) will reduce oxidative stress in diabetic peripheral nerves and improve neuropathy. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS--We used the model of streptozotocin-induced diabetic neuropathy (SDN) and evaluated the efficacy of LA supplementation in improving nerve blood flow (NBF), electrophysiology, and indexes of oxidative stress in peripheral nerves affected by SDN, at 1 month after onset of diabetes and in age-matched control rats. LA, in doses of 20, 50, and 100 mg/kg, was administered intraperitoneally five times per week after onset of diabetes. RESULTS--NBF in SDN was reduced by 50%; LA did not affect the NBF of normal nerves but improved that of SDN in a dose-dependent manner. After 1 month of treatment, LA-supplemented rats (100 mg/kg) exhibited normal NBF. The most sensitive and reliable indicator of oxidative stress was reduction in reduced glutathione, which was significantly reduced in streptozotocin-induced diabetic and alpha-tocopherol-deficient nerves; it was improved in a dose-dependent manner in LA-supplemented rats. The conduction velocity of the digital nerve was reduced in SDN and was significantly improved by LA. CONCLUSIONS--These studies suggest that LA improves SDN, in significant part by reducing the effects of oxidative stress. The drug may have potential in the treatment of human diabetic neuropathy.