Recent evidence from animal models of diabetes and human diabetic subjects suggests that the reduced availability of neurotrophic factors may contribute to the pathogenesis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Of these proteins, nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurotrophin (NT-3) and NT-4/5 appear to be important for the development and maintenance of peripheral neurons, but others, including insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), may also be involved. Studies with NGF, NT-3, IGF-I and IGF-II both in vitro and in animal models of neuropathies (including DPN) suggest that these factors ameliorate nerve degeneration. Recombinant human NGF is the first neurotrophic factor to enter clinical trials for DPN and is currently being tested in two phase III studies.

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