Plasticity of the different neuropeptide-containing nerve fibres in the tongue of the diabetic rat

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Common oral complications of diabetes mellitus are xerostomia, impairment of taste, atrophic lesions of the tongue, leukoplakia, lichen oris planus, and tumours, which might be the consequence of chronic inflammation and changes in innervation. In this work, we examined the density of different neuropeptide-containing nerve fibres immunohisto- and immunocytochemically in the root of the control and diabetic rat's tongue. Quantitative analysis showed that the number of immunoreactive (IR) nerve fibres was decreased after 1 week of the streptozotocin treatment, which was prevented by immediate insulin treatment. However, after 4 weeks duration of diabetes, the number of all investigated IR nerve fibres increased significantly (p < 0.05), which was further enhanced by the delayed insulin treatment. The numbers of substance P (SP) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide IR perikarya were also increased by insulin treatment. The electron-microscopic investigations showed that some of the nerve terminals from diabetic animals were found in degeneration. After 4 weeks duration of diabetes, the number of inflammatory cells as well as the mast cell/nerve fibre contacts was also increased. The immunocells also showed IR for SP and neuropeptide Y in the diabetic rats. The insulin treatment decreased both the number and the immunoreactivity of these cells. The increased synthesis and/or regeneration of neuropeptide-containing nerves might indicate the plasticity of nerve fibres in diabetes mellitus, which might happen as a consequence of the changes in the level of neurotrophic factors released by increased number of inflammatory cells or as an effect of insulin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-223
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Peripheral Nervous System
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2004


  • Insulin
  • Neuropeptides
  • Plasticity of nerve fibres
  • Streptozotocin-induced diabetes
  • Tongue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology

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