A research study led by the University of Texas Health Science Center confirmed a connection between type 1 diabetes and accelerated brain aging.
The research involved participants with type 1 diabetes who had taken part in a previous observational study and a group of demographically similar adults without diabetes as a control.
Participant Profile and Cognitive Tests Used
The participants with type 1 diabetes had a median age of 60 years and a median diabetes duration of 37 years.
Cognitive tests used in the study included verbal fluency, digit symbol substitution test, trail-making part B, and the grooved pegboard assessment.
Memory scores were derived from the logical memory subtest of the Wechsler memory scale and the Wechsler digit symbol substitution test.
Brain Aging and Lower Cognitive Efficiency
The study found that greater brain age, as determined by the cognitive tests, was associated with lower psychomotor and mental efficiency among the participants with type 1 diabetes, suggesting approximately six years of increased brain aging.
However, this association was not observed among the controls.
Using MRI Scans and Machine Learning to Determine Brain Age
The researchers utilized MRI scans and a machine learning program to calculate brain age and quantify Alzheimer’s disease-like atrophy.
While they observed other regions with atrophy in the participants with type 1 diabetes, the Alzheimer’s disease-like regional atrophy was comparable between the two groups.
Conclusions Drawn from the Study
The findings show an increase in brain aging among individuals with type 1 diabetes without any early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease-related neurodegeneration.
The increases were associated with reduced cognitive performance. However, the authors noted that the abnormal patterns observed in the samples were modest.
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The study was published in JAMA Network Open.
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