There is a growing interest on the role of autophagy in diabetes pathophysiology, where development of neuropathy is one of the most frequent comorbidities. We have previously demonstrated that neuropathic pain after nerve damage is exacerbated in autophagy-defective heterozygous Ambra1 mice. Here, we show the existence of a prediabetic state in Ambra1 mice, characterized by hyperglycemia, intolerance to glucose and insulin resistance. Thus, we further investigate the hypothesis that prediabetes may account for the exacerbation of allodynia and chronic pain and that counteracting the autophagy deficit may relieve the neuropathic condition. We took advantage from caloric restriction (CR) able to exert a double action: a powerful increase of autophagy and a control on the metabolic status. We found that CR ameliorates neuropathy throughout anti-inflammatory and metabolic mechanisms both in Ambra1 and in WT animals subjected to nerve injury. Moreover, we discovered that nerve lesion represents, per se, a metabolic stressor and CR reinstates glucose homeostasis, insulin resistance, incomplete fatty acid oxidation and energy metabolism. As autophagy inducer, CR promotes and anticipates Schwann cell autophagy via AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) that facilitates remyelination in peripheral nerve. In summary, we provide new evidence for the role of autophagy in glucose metabolism and identify in energy depletion by dietary restriction a therapeutic approach in the fight against neuropathic pain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)