Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and Cognitive Impairments: A Systematic Review

J Alzheimers Dis. 2017;57(1):29-36. doi: 10.3233/JAD-161250.


Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is a major subtype of diabetes and is usually diagnosed at a young age with insulin deficiency. The life expectancy of T1DM patients has increased substantially in comparison with that three decades ago due to the availability of exogenous insulin, though it is still shorter than that of healthy people. However, the relation remains unclear between T1DM and dementia as an aging-related disease. We conducted a systematic review of existing literature on T1DM and cognition impairments by carrying out searches in electronic databases Medline, EMBASE, and Google Scholar. We restricted our review to studies involving only human subjects and excluded studies on type 2 diabetes mellitus or non-classified diabetes. A meta-analysis was first performed on the relationship between T1DM and cognitive changes in youths and adults respectively. Then the review focused on the cognitive complications of T1DM and their relation with the characteristics of T1DM, glycemic control, diabetic complications, comorbidities, and others. First, age at onset, disease duration, and glycemic dysregulation were delineated for their association with cognitive changes. Then diabetic ketoacidosis, angiopathy, and neuropathy were examined as diabetic complications for their involvement in cognitive impairments. Lastly, body mass index and blood pressure were discussed for their relations with the cognitive changes. Future studies are needed to elucidate the pathogenesis of T1DM-related cognitive impairments or dementia.

Keywords: Cognitive impairments; diabetic ketoacidosis; microangiopathy; severe hypoglycemia; type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Humans