Ethoxyquin (EQ), a quinolone-based antioxidant, has demonstrated neuroprotective properties against several neurotoxic drugs in a phenotypic screening and is shown to protect axons in animal models of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. We assessed the effects of EQ on peripheral nerve function in the db/db mouse model of type II diabetes. After a 7 week treatment period, 12-week-old db/db-vehicle, db/+ -vehicle and db/db-EQ treated animals were evaluated by nerve conduction, paw withdrawal against a hotplate, and fiber density in hindlimb footpads. We found that the EQ group had shorter paw withdrawal latency compared to vehicle db/db group. The EQ group scored higher in nerve conduction studies, compared to vehicle-treated db/db group. Morphology studies yielded similar results. To investigate the potential role of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deletions in the observed effects of EQ, we measured total mtDNA deletion burden in the distal sciatic nerve. We observed an increase in total mtDNA deletion burden in vehicle-treated db/db mice compared to db/+ mice that was partially prevented in db/db-EQ treated animals. These results suggest that EQ treatment may exert a neuroprotective effect in diabetic neuropathy. The prevention of diabetes-induced mtDNA deletions may be a potential mechanism of the neuroprotective effects of EQ in diabetic neuropathy.
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