Type 2 Diabetes Linked To Brain Atrophy


Type 2 diabetes may cause people to lose more brain volume than is expected as they age, according to a recent study HealthDay reported.

Researchers led by Dr. R. Nick Bryan from the University of Pennsylvania found that the disease was associated with the loss of brain matter - suggesting brain atrophy.

"We found that patients having more severe diabetes had less brain tissue, suggesting brain atrophy," Bryan said in a statement. "They did not seem to have more vascular disease due to the direct effect of diabetes."

For the study, researcher used magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the association between the severity and duration of type 2 diabetes mellitus and brain structure in 614 patients.  The mean age of the participants was 62 years, and the mean duration of the disease in the study group was 9.9 years.

They found that longer duration of diabetes was associated with brain volume loss, particularly in the gray matter. However, the study found no association of diabetes characteristics with small vessel ischemic disease in the brain.

"Diabetes duration correlated primarily with brain atrophy," Bryan said. "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."

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1.9 million more are diagnosed with the disease each year. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin that is produced.

The ADA estimates that, based on current trends, as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in the year 2050.

The findings were recently published online in the journal Radiology. 

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