Insulin resistance linked to brain health in elderly

New research from Uppsala University shows that reduced insulin sensitivity is linked to smaller brain size and deteriorated language skills in seniors. The findings are now published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care.

The main hormonal function of insulin is to support the uptake and use of glucose in muscles and fat tissues. However, in an earlier article recently published in Molecular Neurobiology, Christian Benedict from the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University has reported that when insulin reaches the brain, it enhances in humans. As insulin's capacity to stimulate generally declines with age, it may also be that it affects the rate of cognitive aging in seniors.

In a new study, Christian Benedict, together with colleagues from Uppsala University (Samantha Brooks, Håkan Ahlström, Lars Lind, and Helgi Schiöth), the UK, and the US, have systematically studied 331 men and women at the age of 75 years. The researchers examined whether insulin sensitivity is tied to brain health. The brain structure of each participant was measured using magnetic imaging technology, so-called MRT, and their language skills were tested by asking them to name as many animals as possible in one minute (so-called verbal fluency).

"We found that in elderly whose insulin sensitivity was still high, the brains were larger, and they had more grey matter in regions that are important for language skills, compared with those who had diminished insulin sensitivity. We also observed that higher insulin sensitivity was associated with better scores on the language test. Our findings offer a possible explanation for why methods that improve , such as exercise, are promising strategies for counteracting cognitive aging late in life," says Christian Benedict.

More information: The data for the study were taken from the major epidemiological study Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS). www.medsci.uu.se/pivus/pivus.htm

Benedict C et al. Impaired insulin sensitivity as indexed by the HOMA score is associated with deficits in verbal fluency and temporal lobe gray matter volume in elderly. Diabetes Care, in press.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lack of sleep makes your brain hungry

Jan 18, 2012

New research from Uppsala University, Sweden, shows that a specific brain region that contributes to a person's appetite sensation is more activated in response to food images after one night of sleep loss than after one ...

How does insulin influence resistin?

Jan 16, 2008

Obesity is a worldwide health problem directly linked to several diseases such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Resistin is a cysteine-rich hormone mainly secreted by adipose tissues and may form a biochemical link between ...

Low doses of a red wine ingredient fight diabetes in mice

Oct 02, 2007

Even relatively low doses of resveratrol—a chemical found in the skins of red grapes and in red wine—can improve the sensitivity of mice to the hormone insulin, according to a report in the October issue of Cell Metabolism. As ins ...

Recommended for you

Can robots help stop the Ebola outbreak?

6 hours ago

The US military has enlisted a new germ-killing weapon in the fight against Ebola—a four-wheeled robot that can disinfect a room in minutes with pulses of ultraviolet light.

New bird flu case in Germany

6 hours ago

A worrying new strain of bird flu has been observed for the first time in a wild bird in northern Germany, the agriculture ministry said Saturday.

Mali announces new Ebola case

Nov 22, 2014

Mali announced Saturday a new case of Ebola in a man who is fighting for his life in an intensive care unit in the capital Bamako.

Plague outbreak kills 40 in Madagascar: WHO

Nov 22, 2014

An outbreak of plague has killed 40 people in Madagascar, the World Health Organization said, warning that the disease could spread rapidly in the country's densely populated capital Antananarivo.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.