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Logo of jpainresDove Medical PressThis ArticleSubscribeSubmit a ManuscriptSearchFollowDovepressJournal of Pain Research
 
J Pain Res. 2011; 4: 169–175.
Published online 2011 June 29. doi:  10.2147/JPR.S21751
PMCID: PMC3141833

High TNF-alpha plasma levels and macrophages iNOS and TNF-alpha expression as risk factors for painful diabetic neuropathy

Abstract

Painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) is one of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus. Recently it has become clear that nitric oxide (NO) and proinflammatory cytokines play an important role in the pathogenesis of PDN. We investigated whether the cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and NO play a role in PDN pathogenesis by performing a cross-sectional and a case–control study in 110 type 2 diabetic patients. Of 110 subjects, 59 patients suffered from PDN (cases) and the remaining were painless DN (controls). Cross-sectionally, plasma TNF-α levels and immunoreactivity for inducible NO synthase (iNOS) and TNF-α were higher in patients with more severe pain on the visual analog scale. There were statistically significant differences between mild and severe pain for TNF-α levels, iNOS immunoreactivity, and TNF-α immunoreactivity. There were statistically significant differences between mild and severe pain for TNF-α levels (mean 15.24 pg/mL ± 5.42 vs 20.44 ± 10.34), iNOS immunoreactivity (9.76% ± 8.60% vs 15.48% ± 11.56%), and TNF-α immunoreactivity (13.0% ± 9.48% vs 20.44% ± 11.75%). The case–control study showed that TNF-α had an odds ratio of 5.053 (P < 0.001), TNF-α immunoreactivity of 4.125 (P < 0.001), and iNOS immunoreactivity of 3.546 (P = 0.002). DN patients with high TNF-α levels, and high iNOS and TNF-α expression in macrophages are at risk of suffering from pain. The higher the TNF-α level, and iNOS and TNF-α immunoreactivity, the more severe the pain. These findings could form the basis of further research into better management of PDN.

Keywords: diabetic neuropathic pain, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, iNOS

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