Supplementation with Amino Acid Serine Eases Neuropathy in Diabetic Mice

Dr. Michal Handzlik (left) and Dr. Christian Metallo. (Credit: Salk Institute).
Approximately half of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes experience peripheral neuropathy—weakness, numbness, and pain, primarily in the hands and feet. The condition occurs when high levels of sugar circulating in the blood damage peripheral nerves. Now, working with mice, Salk Institute researchers and collaborators have identified another factor contributing to diabetes-associated peripheral neuropathy: altered amino acid metabolism. The team found that diabetic mice with low levels of two related amino acids, serine and glycine, are at higher risk for peripheral neuropathy. What’s more, the researchers were able to alleviate neuropathy symptoms in diabetic mice by supplementing their diets with serine. The study, published January 25, 2023 in Nature, adds to growing evidence that some often-underappreciated, “non-essential” amino acids play important roles in the nervous system. The findings may provide a new way to identify people at high risk for peripheral neuropathy, as well as a potential treatment option. The open-access Nature article is titled “Insulin-Regulated Serine and Lipid Metabolism Drive Peripheral Neuropathy.”
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