Diabetes mellitus and dementia

Diabetes Metab. 2006 Nov;32(5 Pt 1):403-14. doi: 10.1016/s1262-3636(07)70298-7.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) and diabetes mellitus (DM) are two of the most common and devastating health problems in the elderly. They share a number of common features amongst which high prevalence after 65 years, important impact of patient's quality of life, substantial health care costs. Reviews on the epidemiological studies on cognitive impairment in patients with DM found evidence of cross-sectional and prospective associations between type 2 DM and moderate cognitive impairment, on memory and executive functions. There is also evidence for an elevated risk of both vascular dementia and AD in patients with type 2 DM, albeit with strong interaction of other factors such as hypertension, dyslipidaemia and ApoE genotype. DM is an independent predictor of post-stroke dementia. DM being an atherogenic risk factor, it may increase the risk of dementia through associations with stroke, causing vascular dementia. In addition, vascular reactivity may be adversely affected by advanced glycosylation end products resulting in more subtle perfusion abnormalities. Cerebrovascular disease may exacerbate AD through direct interactions between the two pathological processes or through cognitive impairment secondary to cerebrovascular disease "unmasking" AD at an earlier stage than it would otherwise become apparent. The increased risk of AD may also be mediated by the exacerbation of B-amyloid neurotoxicity by advanced glycosylation end products identified in the matrix of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques in AD brains, or associations with insulin functions. Decreased cholinergic transport across the blood-brain barrier observed in diabetic animals may exacerbate cognitive impairment in AD. Many interventions could reduce the cognitive decline associated with DM, yet not enough are taken into account so far.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Complications / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Stroke / psychology
  • Vascular Diseases / psychology