Aims/Introduction: To elucidate whether axonal changes arise in the prediabetic state and to find a biomarker for early detection of neurophysiological changes. Materials and Methods: We enrolled asymptomatic diabetes patients, as well as prediabetic and normoglycemic individuals to test sensory nerve excitability, and we analyzed those findings and their correlation with clinical profiles. Results: In nerve excitability tests, superexcitability in the recovery cycle showed increasing changes in the normoglycemic, prediabetes and diabetes cohorts (−19.09 ± 4.56% in normoglycemia, −22.39 ± 3.16% in prediabetes and −23.71 ± 5.15% in diabetes, P = 0.002). Relatively prolonged distal sensory latency was observed in the median nerve (3.12 ± 0.29 ms in normoglycemia, 3.23 ± 0.38 ms in prediabetes and 3.45 ± 0.43 ms in diabetes, P = 0.019). Superexcitability was positively correlated with fasting plasma glucose (r = 0.291, P = 0.009) and glycated hemoglobin (r = 0.331, P = 0.003) in all participants. Conclusions: Sensory superexcitability and latencies are the most sensitive parameters for detecting preclinical physiological dysfunction in prediabetes. In addition, changes in favor of superexcitability were positively correlated with glycated hemoglobin for all participants. These results suggest that early axonal changes start in the prediabetic stage, and that the monitoring strategy for polyneuropathy should start as early as prediabetes.
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