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Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 2009, Article ID 827943, 9 pages
Research Article

Cold Exposure Exacerbates the Development of Diabetic Polyneuropathy in the Rat

1Division of Neuromuscular Diseases, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA
2Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
3Department of Vascular Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Received 22 June 2009; Revised 24 August 2009; Accepted 11 October 2009

Academic Editor: Soroku Yagihashi

Copyright © 2009 Lora J. Kasselman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) and cold-induced nerve injury share several pathogenic mechanisms. This study explores whether cold exposure contributes to the development of DPN. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats and controls were exposed to a room temperature ( C) or cold environment ( C). H-reflex, tail and sciatic motor, and sensory nerve conduction studies were performed. Analyses of sural nerve, intraepidermal nerve fibers, and skin and nerve nitrotyrosine ELISAs were performed. Diabetic animals exposed to a cold environment had an increased H-reflex four weeks earlier than diabetic room temperature animals ( ). Cold-exposed diabetic animals also had greater reduction in motor conduction velocities at 20 weeks ( ), decreased skin nerve fiber density ( ), and increased skin nitrotyrosine levels ( ). Cold exposure appears to hasten the development of DPN in the rat STZ model of diabetes. These findings support that further study into the relationship between ambient temperature and DPN is warranted.