Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease with a high prevalence in the Western population. It is characterized by pancreas failure to produce insulin, which involves high blood glucose levels. The two main forms of diabetes are type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which correspond with >85% of the cases. Diabetes shows several associated alterations including vascular dysfunction, neuropathies as well as central complications. Brain alterations in diabetes are widely studied; however, the mechanisms implicated have not been completely elucidated. Diabetic brain shows a wide profile of micro and macrostructural changes, such as neurovascular deterioration or neuroinflammation leading to neurodegeneration and progressive cognition dysfunction. Natural compounds (single isolated compounds and/or natural extracts) have been widely assessed in metabolic disorders and many of them have also shown antioxidant, antiinflamatory and neuroprotective properties at central level. This work reviews natural compounds with brain neuroprotective activities, taking into account several therapeutic targets: Inflammation and oxidative stress, vascular damage, neuronal loss or cognitive impairment. Altogether, a wide range of natural extracts and compounds contribute to limit neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunction under diabetic state. Therefore, they could broaden therapeutic alternatives to reduce or slow down complications associated with diabetes at central level.
Keywords: inflammation; learning; memory; natural compound; natural extract; neuroprotection; type 2 diabetes; vascular damage.