A number of studies have reported that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is associated with alterations in resting-state activity and connectivity in the brain. There is also evidence that interventions involving physical activity and weight loss may affect brain functional connectivity. In this study, we examined the effects of nearly 10 years of an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI), designed to induce and sustain weight loss through lower caloric intake and increased physical activity, on resting-state networks in adults with T2DM. We performed a cross-sectional comparison of global and local characteristics from functional brain networks between individuals who had been randomly assigned to ILI or a control condition of health education and support. Upon examining brain networks from 312 participants (average age: 68.8 for ILI and 67.9 for controls), we found that ILI participants (N=160) had attenuated local efficiency at the network-level compared with controls (N=152). Although there was no group difference in the network-level global efficiency, we found that, among ILI participants, nodal global efficiency was elevated in left fusiform gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, and pars opercularis of right inferior frontal gyrus. These effects were age-dependent, with more pronounced effects for older participants. Overall these results indicate that the individuals assigned to the ILI had brain networks with less regional and more global connectivity, particularly involving frontal lobes. Such patterns would support greater distributed information processing. Future studies are needed to determine if these differences are associated with age-related compensatory function in the ILI group or worse pathology in the control group.
Keywords: Brain networks; Functional connectivity; Resting-state fMRI; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Weight-loss intervention.
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