A large epidemiological study has documented that one-third of diabetic patients have peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes duration, poor glycaemic control, smoking and hypertension are all independent predictors of the incidence of diabetic polyneuropathy. High prevalence of autonomic dysfunctions, both sympathetic and parasympathetic, has been found in patients with nonalcoholic chronic liver disease. The pathogenesis of metabolic neuropathy is unclear; even immunologic factors might play a role in the development of diabetic autonomic neuropathy. No specific treatments are available for these neuropathies. Correction of metabolic derangement is fundamental, as shown by the amelioration of peripheral nerve function obtained after successful simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation. The therapeuthic potentials of neurotrophins for the prevention and treatment of diabetic neuropathy have to be confirmed in future studies.
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