Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Center for the Study of Complications
in Diabetes brings together some of the world's leading authorities
to find new ways to understand and treat three of the most devastating
complications of this disease: diabetic peripheral neuropathy (progressive
nerve damage), diabetic autonomic neuropathy (progressive autonomic
nerve damage), and diabetic nephropathy (progressive kidney damage).
peripheral neuropathy leads to loss of feeling in the feet and hands,
and is the most common cause of nontraumatic amputations not due
to accidents in the United States.
autonomic neuropathy can also affect the autonomic
nervous system, which controls cardiovascular, digestive and other
nephropathy is the number one cause of renal failure requiring dialysis
in our country.
is the first JDRF Center to focus exclusively on the complications of
More than 50 percent of people with diabetes suffer from some
form of neuropathy, and 10-21 percent of people with diabetes have
nephropathy. While research indicates that the chronic high levels
of blood sugar (glucose) cause these complications, investigators
are still trying to understand exactly how glucose damages the nerves
researchers at the JDRF Center for the Study of Complications in Diabetes
have generated a new theory about how this damage occurs. Their studies
indicate that high glucose produces a series of interrelated changes
in the way the body metabolizes proteins and lipids in the nerves
and kidneys. These changes in metabolism generate molecules called
free oxygen radicals. Free oxygen radicals are toxic to cells and
produce what is called "oxidative stress." Oxidative stress
robs sick nerve and kidney cells of oxygen and protein molecules called
growth factors, which enable cells to grow. The result is a kind of
cell suicide known as apoptosis. Unchecked, oxidative stress and apoptosis
lead to neuropathy and nephropathy.
at the JDRF Center for the Study of Complications in Diabetes are
uncovering the complex mechanisms through which glucose causes oxidative
stress in the nerves and kidneys, and discovering how oxidative stress
leads to neuropathy and nephropathy. Investigators are also developing
and testing different therapies to block glucose damage to cells and
thereby prevent these devastating complications of diabetes.
the research at the Center uses tissue cultures (nerve and kidney
cells grown in a petri dish) and animal models of diabetes. One of
the Center's research projects on neuropathy, will test therapies
that prove successful in tissue culture and animal models and in people