Impaired Hedgehog signalling-induced endothelial dysfunction is sufficient to induce neuropathy: implication in diabetes.



Microangiopathy, i.e. endothelial dysfunction, has long been suggested to contribute to the development of diabetic neuropathy, although this has never been fully verified. In the present paper, we have identified the role of Hedgehog (Hh) signalling in endoneurial microvessel integrity and evaluated the impact of impaired Hh signalling in endothelial cells (ECs) on nerve function.


By using Desert Hedgehog (Dhh)-deficient mice, we have revealed, that in the absence of Dhh, endoneurial capillaries are abnormally dense and permeable. Furthermore, Smoothened (Smo) conditional KO mice clarified that this increased vessel permeability is specifically due to impaired Hh signalling in ECs and is associated with a down-regulation of Claudin5 (Cldn5). Moreover, impairment of Hh signalling in ECs was sufficient to induce hypoalgesia and neuropathic pain. Finally in Lepr(db/db) type 2 diabetic mice, the loss of Dhh expression observed in the nerve was shown to be associated with increased endoneurial capillary permeability and decreased Cldn5 expression. Conversely, systemic administration of the Smo agonist SAG increased Cldn5 expression, decreased endoneurial capillary permeability, and restored thermal algesia to diabetic mice, demonstrating that loss of Dhh expression is crucial in the development of diabetic neuropathy.


The present work demonstrates the critical role of Dhh in maintaining blood nerve barrier integrity and demonstrates for the first time that endothelial dysfunction is sufficient to induce neuropathy.

C. Chapouly, Q. Yao, S. Vandierdonck, F. Larrieu Laharque, J. N. Mariani, A. Gadeau and M. A. Renault.