Diabetic cardiac autonomic neuropathy: insights from animal models

Catherine L Stables, Rebecca L Glasser, Eva L Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN) is a relatively common and often devastating complication of diabetes. The major clinical signs are tachycardia, exercise intolerance, and orthostatic hypotension, but the most severe aspects of this complication are high rates of cardiac events and mortality. One of the earliest manifestations of CAN is reduced heart rate variability, and detection of this, along with abnormal results in postural blood pressure testing and/or the Valsalva maneuver, are central to diagnosis of the disease. The treatment options for CAN, beyond glycemic control, are extremely limited and lack evidence of efficacy. The underlying molecular mechanisms are also poorly understood. Thus, CAN is associated with a poor prognosis and there is a compelling need for research to understand, prevent, and reverse CAN. In this review of the literature we examine the use and usefulness of animal models of CAN in diabetes. Compared to other diabetic complications, the number of animal studies of CAN is very low. The published studies range across a variety of species, methods of inducing diabetes, and timescales examined, leading to high variability in study outcomes. The lack of well-characterized animal models makes it difficult to judge the relevance of these models to the human disease. One major advantage of animal studies is the ability to probe underlying molecular mechanisms, and the limited numbers of mechanistic studies conducted to date are outlined. Thus, while animal models of CAN in diabetes are crucial to better understanding and development of therapies, they are currently under-used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Diabetic Neuropathies
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic
  • Tachycardia


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