Type 2 diabetes linked to brain degeneration

The longer an individual has type 2 diabetes, the more likely he or she will have brain volume loss, report researchers from the Perleman School of Medicine in Pennsylvania.

The new study found that type 2 diabetes is associated with brain degernation, and, contrary to what medical science has always purported, diabetes may not be directly associated with small vessel ischemic disease (a condition that happens when the brain does not receive adequate supplies of oxygenated blood).

How old is your brain?

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to study the link between type 2 diabetes and brain structure in 614 adult patients. On average, the age of the participants was 62 and the length of time they had type 2 diabetes was 9.9 years.

Findings suggest the longer a person has type 2 diabetes, the greater their brain volume decreases - particularly in the gray matter.

"Diabetes duration correlated primarily with brain atrophy," said study author R. Nick Bryan, M.D., Ph.D. "Stated another way, our results suggested that, for every 10 years of diabetes duration, the brain of a patient with diabetes looks approximately two years older than that of a non-diabetic person, in terms of gray matter volume."

Diabetes and dementia

Other studies have linked diabetes with higher rates of dementia, and the new research suggests there is reason to explore this connection further. The findings, said Dr. Bryan, indicate that cognitive changes seen in diabetics may not be due to vascular disease, but neurodegenerative conditions, like Alzheimer's.

"As diabetes becomes more common, better understanding of the disease and its management becomes even more important in order to minimize its effect on patient health," Dr. Bryan said.

Source: Radiological Society of North America

Image courtesy of smokedsalmon/ FreeDigital Photos.net

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