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What Causes Age-Related Peripheral Neuropathy?

If you have age-related peripheral neuropathy, you probably think you know what causes it - age, right? Close, but not quite. It's a bit more complicated than that. After all, if it were just "old age" causing your PN, why wouldn't everyone get it? The truth is, your nerves are as complex as, well, your nervous system. But a new report in the Journal for Neurological Science has finally shed some light on age-related peripheral neuropathy, and you might be surprised by what researchers found.

When researchers in the neurological department of the Würzburg University Hospital in Würzburg, Germany, set out to learn what exactly causes age-related peripheral neuropathy, they began their observation on the peripheral nerves of patients between the ages of 65 and 79. As the team studied each sample, they noticed an elevated number of something called "macrophages" in each. Macrophages are immune system cells that digest and dispose of cellular debris, aging cells, microbes and foreign substances within the body. Microphages also aid in the healing process by causing inflammation responses and cleansing the body's tissue. But while these tiny little cells are usually "good guys," sometimes they aren't so good when it comes to some diseases that are triggered by inflammation, like diabetes.

Next the researchers decided to take a closer look at the nerves of older mice, because age-related peripheral neuropathy in mice is very similar to that in human beings. When the scientists looked at the nerves of the mice, they noticed that, unsurprisingly, the changes in the mouse nerves were very similar to the changes in human nerves, and just like in the human subjects, more macrophages appeared in the mice.

Next the researchers sought to examine how the macrophages affected the nerves, so they fed the mice a special diet that killed the remaining macrophages. Surprisingly, the neuropathic degeneration in the mice with the killed-off macrophages all but stopped, leading researchers to conclude that the inflammatory response in aging nerves is related to their degeneration. This could someday lead to a treatment for age-related peripheral neuropathy.

Next up for the team will be to try and determine which nerve-cells increase macrophage numbers, and what besides medication could be used to treat them. In the meantime, there are still plenty of options - especially drug-free ones - for treating age-related peripheral neuropathy, including electronic therapy, stem cell therapy and light therapy.

To learn more about how these treatment options can help your peripheral neuropathy, please give Dr. Nathan Weller a call at Restore Wellness Center at 480-751-1629.

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Monday, 20 May 2019

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