Background: Evidence for an association of fasting plasma glucose (FPG) with cognitive function in adults free of diabetes is scarce and based on middle-aged and older adults. We examined the association of FPG, measured at age 30, and of change in FPG from age 30 to 43, with cognitive function at age 50.
Methods: 505 nondiabetic participants of the population-based Jerusalem Lipid Research Clinic (LRC) cohort study had baseline FPG, 2-h post-oral challenge plasma glucose (OGTT) and insulin determined at ages 28-32, and FPG and OGTT again at ages 41-46. Subsequently at ages 48-52, global cognitive function and its five specific component domains were assessed with a NeuroTrax computerized test battery, using multiple linear regression and multivariable logistic models.
Results: Hyperglycemia (FPG ≥ 5.6 mmol/l vs. <5.6 mmol/l) at baseline was associated with poorer global cognitive function in midlife (predominantly in the visual spatial and attention domains), independent of socio-demographic characteristics, life style variables, body mass index (BMI), and inflammatory and biochemical variables (standardized Beta = -0.121, P = 0.002, plinear trend(FPG continuous) =0.016). Similarly, increased odds for low-ranked (lowest fifth) global cognition was evident (ORper mmol/l FPG=2.31, 95% CI = 1.30-4.13, P = 0.005). Baseline OGTT, insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and change in FPG and OGTT over 13 years were not associated with cognition.
Conclusion: A higher FPG in young adults was associated with lower cognitive performance in midlife. Although we cannot dismiss the possibility of reverse causation, hyperglycemia at a young age may be a modifiable risk factor for low-ranked cognitive function in midlife.