Diabetes accelerates brain aging

posted on 05/25/2022 06:00


(credit: Stony Brook University)

Type 2 diabetes can accelerate brain aging and cognitive decline, US study finds. The researchers came to this conclusion after evaluating neural data from around 20,000 people and believe that, if explored further, the relationship could aid in the development of new strategies that help prevent neurodegenerative problems such as Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers.

In the article published in the journal eLife, the authors explain that there is strong evidence linking metabolic diseases to cognitive decline. However, few people undergo brain analysis during diabetes treatment, making it difficult to understand this relationship.

“Routine clinical assessments to diagnose diabetes often focus on blood sugar, insulin levels and body mass percentage,” Botond Antal, a doctoral student at Stony Brook University in the US, said in a statement. , and one of the authors of the study.

According to Antal, the neurological effects of type 2 diabetes can reveal themselves several years before they are detected by standard measures of the disease. “So when this disease is diagnosed by conventional tests, patients may already have suffered irreversible brain damage,” he warns.

The study used the largest available dataset on brain structure and function, the UK Biobank, and analyzed neural information from around 20,000 people aged 50 to 80. “This medical database includes brain scans and neuronal function measurements, with data relating to healthy individuals and those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes,” the authors detail.

With this information, the group identified brain and cognitive changes specific to diabetes, not just aging. They then confirmed the result by comparing it to a meta-analysis of nearly 100 other studies.

executive functions

In conclusion, they found that aging and type 2 diabetes lead to changes in three executive functions – working memory, learning and flexibility of thought – as well as changes in brain processing speed. However, people with diabetes experienced an additional 13.1% decrease in all three assessed executive functions, and processing speed also decreased an additional 6.7%, compared to age-matched people without diabetes.

The team also compared brain structure and activity between people with and without the metabolic disease using MRI scans. In this case, they observed an age-related decrease in gray matter in the brain, particularly in the region called the ventral striatum – which is essential for executive functions. People with diabetes had even more marked reductions in this neural area.

Finally, the researchers found that the negative effects on brain function were more severe with increasing duration of metabolic disease. “Our results suggest that type 2 diabetes and its progression may be associated with accelerated brain aging, potentially due to impaired energy availability, leading to significant changes in brain structure and function,” says Lilianne Mujica. -Parodi, Director of the Computational Neurodiagnostics Laboratory. at Stony Brook University and one of the study’s authors.

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