We investigated the application of rate-dependent depression (RDD) of the Hoffmann (H) wave as a predictor of treatment efficacy in patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). General medical information, scales, and nerve conduction data were collected from 73 healthy subjects, 50 subjects with type 2 diabetes and painless DPN, and 71 subjects with type 2 diabetes and painful DPN. The left tibial nerve was stimulated, and RDD was calculated by the decline in amplitude of the third H wave relative to the first one. Gabapentin treatment was initiated after baseline evaluation, and the RDD and visual analog scale (VAS) score were both evaluated regularly during the 2-week study period. At baseline, the painful DPN group exhibited significant RDD impairment across all stimulation frequencies. Gabapentin treatment significantly reduced the VAS score and restored RDD during the 2-week observation period. RDD was found to be an independent factor of minimal VAS score improvement, such that the benefit increased by 1.27 times per 1% decrease in the RDD value. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that diabetes-induced loss of RDD can be modified by gabapentin and suggests that RDD may be valuable for predicting the initial efficacy of gabapentin therapy in patients with painful DPN.

X.Z. and Y.Z. contributed equally to this work.

Clinical trial reg no. ChiCTR2000038848, www.chictr.org.cn

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