Novel systems for in vivo monitoring and microenvironmental investigations of diabetic neuropathy in a murine model

Sharon Amit*, Avraham Yaron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peripheral neuropathy is a devastating complication of diabetes conferring vast morbidity and mortality. Despite prolonged efforts to elucidate the mechanisms underlying diabetic related neuropathic phenomena and develop effective therapies, current treatment is for the most part glycemic control and symptomatic care. This is partially due to the intricate pathophysiology of diabetic neuropathy and the scarcity of valid experimental models. The aim of the study was to establish novel systems enabling monitoring and dissection of significant processes in the development of diabetic neuropathy. In a non-invasive in vivo model, two-photon microscopy is applied to evaluate mechanoreceptors (Meissner corpuscles) within an intact footpad of transgenic mice expressing a fluorescent neuronal tracer. By applying this advanced technology, which couples potent tissue penetration with superb resolution, we documented qualitative and quantitative diabetes-specific alterations in these sensory structures. Detection of such changes previously required laborious invasive histopathological techniques. In parallel, we present an ex vivo system that mimics the native microenvironment of the nerve ending via a unique co-culture of primary sensory neurons and thin skin slices. In conjunction with innovative high-throughput digital axonal measurements and computerized quantification tools, this method enables an unbiased exploration of neuronal autonomous and non-autonomous malfunctions. Using this setup we demonstrate that while the diabetic nerve retains a near-normal growth and regeneration capacities, the diabetic skin exhibits a decreased ability to support axonal outgrowth. Thus, an early target organ failure rather than intrinsic neuronal failure may initiate the neuropathy. Overall, the illustrated experimental platforms may greatly facilitate the holistic investigation of diabetic neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1325
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • High-throughput analysis
  • In vivo imaging
  • Microenviornment


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