Coenzyme Q10 prevents peripheral neuropathy and attenuates neuron loss in the db−/db− mouse, a type 2 diabetes model

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is the most common complication in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Here we studied some phenotypic features of a well-established animal model of type 2 diabetes, the leptin receptor-deficient db/db mouse, and also the effect of long-term (6 mo) results with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an endogenous antioxidant. Diabetic mice at 8 mo of age exhibited loss of sensation, hypoalgesia (an increase in mechanical threshold), and decreases in mechanical hyperalgesia, cold allodynia, and sciatic nerve conduction velocity. All these changes were virtually completely absent after the 6-mo, daily CoQ10 results in db/db mice when started at 7 wk of age. There was a 33% neuronal loss in the lumbar 5 dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) of the db/db mouse versus controls at 8 mo of age, which was significantly attenuated by CoQ10. There was no difference in neuron number in 5/6-wk-old mice between diabetic and control mice. We observed a strong down-regulation of phospholipase C (PLC) β3 in the DRGs of diabetic mice at 8 mo of age, a key molecule in pain signaling, and this effect was also blocked by the 6-mo CoQ10 results. Many of the phenotypic, neurochemical regulations encountered in lumbar DRGs in standard models of peripheral nerve injury were not observed in diabetic mice at 8 mo of age. These results suggest that reactive oxygen species and reduced PLCβ3 expression may contribute to the sensory deficits in the late-stage diabetic db/db mouse, and that early long-term administration of the antioxidant CoQ10 may represent a promising therapeutic strategy for type 2 diabetes neuropathy.

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