Nutritional Neuropathies

Gwathmey KG, Grogan J


Neuropathies associated with nutritional deficiencies are routinely encountered by the practicing neurologist. Though these neuropathies assume different patterns, most are length-dependent, sensory axonopathies. Cobalamin deficiency neuropathy is the exception, often presenting with a non-length-dependent sensory neuropathy. Patients with cobalamin and copper deficiency neuropathy characteristically have concomitant myelopathy, whereas vitamin E deficiency is uniquely associated with a spinocerebellar syndrome. In contrast to those nutrients for which deficiencies produce neuropathies, pyridoxine toxicity results in a non-length-dependent sensory neuronopathy. Deficiencies occur in the context of malnutrition, malabsorption, increased nutrient loss (such as with dialysis), autoimmune conditions such as pernicious anemia, and with certain drugs that inhibit nutrient absorption. When promptly identified, therapeutic nutrient supplementation may result in stabilization or improvement of these neuropathies.

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