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Diabetic patients are at higher risk of cognitive impairment, making them more susceptible to dementia

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A joint research team led by a professor at Seoul Boramae Hospital recently announced the results of a study stating that elderly patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cognitive dysfunction in the future, requiring careful management.

The joint research team led by Professor Oh Dae-jong and Lee Jun-young of the Department of Psychiatry at Boramae Hospital and Professor Kim Yu-kyung of the Department of Nuclear Medicine selected 74 non-psychiatric elderly people (ages 52-85) who visited the memory disorder clinic at Boramae Hospital as the study subjects. Together, the results of blood tests, cognitive function tests, and brain MRI scans were comprehensively analyzed to study the effects and mechanisms of diabetes on the onset of cognitive dysfunction.

The research team classified the subjects into three groups: type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, and normal controls, and 3D-MRI brain images and cerebral white matter structures of each group can be examined through ‘voxel-based morphometry’. Diffusion tensor imaging was compared and analyzed.

As a result of the analysis, elderly diabetic patients had reduced volumes of both cerebellar gray matter and frontal white matter compared to normal elderly people, and extensive damage was observed in the brain white matter microstructure. In the case of the pre-diabetic group, it was confirmed that the volume of gray matter in the left anterior insulitis and the frontal lobe decreased compared to the normal control group.

In addition, as the glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and insulin resistance levels were higher in the elderly with dysglycemia such as type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, atrophy of the cerebellum and frontal gray matter and microstructural damage of the frontal white matter increased proportionally. .

As a result of the cognitive function test, it was confirmed that various cognitive functions such as memory, language ability, reaction speed, and executive function deteriorated in the elderly with dysglycemia due to damage to the frontal lobe and cerebellum. The researchers concluded that

Professor Oh Dae-jong said, “Through this study, we confirmed that high blood sugar can damage the connection between the frontal lobe and the cerebellum and increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction. As damage appears and the risk of dementia gradually increases, elderly patients diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes need to regularly check their cognitive function along with strict blood sugar control.”

Meanwhile, the results of this study were published in the international academic journal ‘Frontiers in Neurology’ in October 2021.

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