Global brain atrophy but not hippocampal atrophy is related to type 2 diabetes

J Neurol Sci. 2014 Sep 15;344(1-2):32-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2014.06.008. Epub 2014 Jun 14.


Aims: It has been suggested that in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), brain atrophy is most pronounced in the hippocampus, but this has not been investigated systematically. The present pooled analysis of three studies examined if hippocampal atrophy is more prominent than global brain atrophy in patients with T2DM relative to controls.

Methods: Data were derived from a cohort study of patients with vascular disease (SMART-Medea (T2DM=120; no T2DM=502)), and from two case-control studies (UDES1 (T2DM=61; controls=30) and UDES2 (T2DM=54; controls=53)). In SMART-Medea and UDES1, hippocampal volume was obtained by manual tracing on 1.5 Tesla (T) MRI scans. Total brain and intracranial volume (ICV) were determined by an automated segmentation method. In UDES2, hippocampal and total brain volume were determined by FreeSurfer and ICV by manual segmentation on 3 T MRI scans.

Results: The pooled analyses, adjusted for age and sex, showed a significant negative relation between T2DM and total brain-to-ICV ratio (standardized mean difference=-1.24%, 95% CI: -1.63; -0.86), but not between T2DM and hippocampal-to-ICV ratio (0.00%, 95% CI: -0.01; 0.00) or between T2DM and hippocampal-to-total brain volume ratio (0.01%, 95% CI: -0.01; 0.02). In patients with T2DM no associations were found between brain volume measures and HbA1c or memory.

Conclusion: Patients with T2DM had greater brain atrophy but not hippocampal atrophy, compared to controls. These findings do not support specific vulnerability of the hippocampus in patients with T2DM.

Keywords: Atrophy; Brain; Hippocampus; MRI; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrophy / etiology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests