Clarification of the extent and mechanisms of damage to the central nervous system in diabetes is a frontier of current neurological research. Our aim was to obtain ample electrophysiological documentation of possible neurological abnormalities in both insulin-dependent (IDDM) and non-insulin-dependent (NIDDM) diabetic patients with a short duration of disease and without overt complications, taking into account metabolic control. Group 1 comprised 11 IDDM patients, and group 2 included 14 NIDDM patients treated with diet alone; the duration of disease was <4 yr, and no concomitant clinicalcomplications were present. Age and sex-matched normal subjects formed groups 3 and 4. Pattern visual evoked potentials (VEP), brain stem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP), and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP; after the stimulation of both median and tibial nerves) were recorded in all subjects, and metabolic control was evaluated in terms of glycemia and glycosylated hemoglobin. In group 1, significant abnormalities were found in the latency values ofVEP, median SEP, and tibial SEP compared with control subjects. Similar latency abnormalities were shown in group 2 for VEP, median SEP, and tibial SEP values and for wave I latency of BAEP. Glycosylated hemoglobin values were correlated with BAEP and SEP abnormalities in many patients in both groups. Furthermore, in group 2, glycemic values correlated with SEP abnormalities. We therefore conclude that neurophysiological abnormalities are present at different levels in IDDM and NIDDM patients only a few years after clinical diagnosis and before the appearance of overt complications, and these abnormalities seem to be correlated with metabolic-control status.

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