Antioxidants may prevent cognitive impairment in diabetes

November 21, 2018 by Grant Hill, University of Dundee
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Antioxidants could help to reduce the cognitive impairment that diabetes patients experience as a result of low blood sugar levels, according to new research carried out at the University of Dundee.

Repeated episodes of low blood sugar leads to cognitive difficulty for patients with but the study, led by Dr. Alison McNeilly from the University's School of Medicine, suggests that stimulating antioxidant defences in mice reduces these impairments. This raises the possibility of one day being able to improve the quality of life of diabetics.

Dr. McNeilly will present her research at the Society for Endocrinology's annual conference in Glasgow this week.

"Low blood sugar is an almost unavoidable consequence of insulin therapy," explained Dr. McNeilly. "This work demonstrates that by improving the body's own antioxidant defence system we can reverse some of the side effects associated with diabetes, such as poor cognitive function."

Long-term decline in cognitive function, with everyday learning and memory tasks becoming harder and taking longer to complete, is a common consequence for patients who frequently experience low blood sugar levels when using insulin to manage their diabetes.

Previous studies in mice have shown that reoccurring episodes of low blood sugar leads to an accumulation of cell damaging in the brain.

It is not known whether this build-up of free radical stress directly effects cognitive function or if the body's own antioxidative systems, which can remove free radicals, can be harnessed to counteract these changes.

In this study, Dr. McNeilly and colleagues used insulin to induce repeated bouts of low blood in a mouse model of type-1 diabetes. In the experiment, one group of were also dosed with the vegetable-derived antioxidant sulforaphane (SFN).

Mice treated with SFN showed increased expression of antioxidant markers, decreased free radical cell damage and had significantly improved cognitive ability in memory tasks.

Dr. McNeilly and her colleagues now intend to find out if boosting the body's antioxidative system can minimise cognitive decline associated with in humans by using drugs based on the chemical structure of SFN.

Dr. McNeilly added, "The concentration of SFN used in this study would not be attainable in a normal diet rich in vegetables. However, there are numerous highly potent compounds in clinical trials which may prevent cognitive impairments caused by free radicals to help diabetes ."

Explore further: Could intermittent fasting diets increase diabetes risk?

Related Stories

Could intermittent fasting diets increase diabetes risk?

May 20, 2018
Fasting every other day to lose weight impairs the action of sugar-regulating hormone, insulin, which may increase diabetes risk, according to data presented in Barcelona at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting, ...

New research shows diabetes and worse blood sugar control are associated with long-term cognitive decline

January 25, 2018
A new study of some 5,000 older people in the UK has shown that rates of long-term cognitive decline are steeper in those who have diabetes compared with people with normal blood sugar control, and that efforts to delay the ...

Brain scans show why some type 1 diabetics miss low blood sugar cues

February 2, 2018
The brains of people with type 1 diabetes react differently to low blood sugar compared with healthy adults, say Yale researchers.

Study suggests potential connection between low blood sugar and cardiovascular problems

November 3, 2015
Past studies have shown an association between strict control of blood sugar and increased mortality. These studies have also suggested that a consequence of this strict control is low blood sugar (called hypoglycemia), which ...

Culprit in reducing effectiveness of insulin identified

April 26, 2018
Scientists at Osaka University have discovered that Stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) secreted from adipocytes reduces the effectiveness of insulin in adipocytes and decreased insulin-induced glucose uptake.

Recommended for you

Researchers study abnormal blood glucose levels of discharged patients

December 14, 2018
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers decided to delve into an area where little data currently exists. They wanted to know what happens after these patients with abnormal blood glucose measurements are discharged? ...

Researchers zero in on potential therapeutic target for diabetes, associated diseases

December 14, 2018
A recent study led by researchers in Texas A&M University's department of nutrition and food science shows how a novel regulatory mechanism serves as an important biomarker for the development of diabetes, as well as a potential ...

Does diabetes damage brain health?

December 14, 2018
(HealthDay)—Diabetes has been tied to a number of complications such as kidney disease, but new research has found that older people with type 2 diabetes can also have more difficulties with thinking and memory.

Researchers have found that incidence of heart failure was around two-fold higher in people with diabetes

December 11, 2018
Researchers have found that incidence of heart failure was around two-fold higher in people with diabetes.

Millions of low-risk people with diabetes may be testing their blood sugar too often

December 10, 2018
For people with Type 2 diabetes, the task of testing their blood sugar with a fingertip prick and a drop of blood on a special strip of paper becomes part of everyday life.

Very low calorie diets trialled by NHS to tackle diabetes

December 7, 2018
Hundreds of thousands of people will receive NHS help to battle obesity and type 2 diabetes under radical action set out by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England.

0 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.