Cognitive decline in people with Type 2 Diabetes is likely due to brain shrinkage that resembles that found in Alzheimer’s disease. The findings are from the first large scale study to compare brain scans and cognitive function between people with and without Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). Researchers found that brain atrophy, rather than cerebrovascular lesions, was likely the primary reason for cognitive impairment associated with this type of diabetes.
Important implications for ageing populations
The World Health Organization reports that more than 347 million people around the world live with diabetes and about 90% are Type 2. There are, therefore, important implications for ageing populations. “Type 2 Diabetes and dementia are both highly common disorders affecting the ageing population and this research shows that there may be a mechanistic link between the, Indeed, generalized brain atrophy may be the key driver of cognitive decline in Type 2 Diabetes and such atrophy is also commonly seen in people with dementia,” explained associate professor Velandai Srikanth of Monash University’s Department of Medicine in Australia. “By 2031 it is estimated that around 3.3 million Australians will have diabetes. The burden of dementia in the population will be greatly increased if a significant number of these individuals experience cognitive decline.”
Builds on previous research showing increased levels of dementia
Previous studies have shown a greater risk of future dementia in people with T2DM. However, it has been unclear whether T2DM was a causal factor for the impairment and if so by what mechanisms. Researchers tested 700 people with and without T2DM using MRI scans.
Those with diabetes performed less well on cognitive tests and had greater shrinkage in specific regions of the brain driving cognitive function. Now studies will focus on why people with Type 2 Diabetes develop brain atrophy and if it can be prevented or slowed.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Monash University