Neurovascular coupling in cognitive impairment associated with diabetes mellitus

Circ J. 2011;75(5):1042-8. doi: 10.1253/circj.cj-11-0121. Epub 2011 Mar 25.


Although it is feared that diabetes-induced cognitive decline will become a major clinical problem worldwide in the future, the detailed pathological mechanism is not well known. Because patients with diabetes have various complications of vascular disease, with not only macrovascular but also microvascular disorders, vascular disorders in the brain are considered to be one of the mechanisms in diabetes-induced cognitive impairment. Indeed, disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) has been observed in some diabetic patients and experimental diabetes models. Moreover, white matter lesions, part of the evidence of BBB dysfunction, are reported to be observed more frequently in patients with diabetes. Animal studies demonstrate that diabetes enhances BBB permeability through a decrease in the level of tight junction proteins and an increase in matrix metalloproteinase activity. However, there are several reports indicating that BBB disruption does not occur with diabetes. Therefore, the association of BBB breakdown with diabetes-induced cognitive impairment is not conclusive. Recently, neuronal diseases involving dementia have been induced experimentally through dysfunction of neurovascular coupling, which involves blood vessels, astrocytes and neutrons. Diabetes-induced cognitive decline may be induced via disruption of neurovascular coupling, with not only vascular disorder but also impairment of astrocytic trafficking. Here, the relation between vascular disorder and cognitive impairment in diabetes is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Tight Junctions
  • Vascular Diseases