Impairment of cognitive flexibility in type 2 diabetic db/db mice

Behav Brain Res. 2019 Oct 3:371:111978. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.111978. Epub 2019 May 26.


Impaired executive function is a major peril for patients with type 2 diabetes, reducing quality of life and ability for diabetes management. Despite the significance of this impairment, few animal models of type 2 diabetes examine domains of executive function such as cognitive flexibility or working memory. Here, we evaluated these executive function domains in db/db mice, an established model of type 2 diabetes, at 10 and 24 weeks of age. The db/db mice showed impaired cognitive flexibility in the Morris water maze reversal phase. However, the db/db mice did not show apparent working memory disturbance in the spatial working memory version of the Morris water maze or in the radial water maze. We also examined axon initial segments (AIS) and nodes of Ranvier, key axonal domains for action potential initiation and propagation. AIS were significantly shortened in medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of 26-week-old db/db mice compared with controls, similar to our previous findings in 10-week-old mice. Nodes of Ranvier in corpus callosum, previously shown to be unchanged at 10 weeks, were elongated at 26 weeks, suggesting an important role for this domain in disease progression. Together, the findings help establish db/db mice as a model of impaired cognitive flexibility in type 2 diabetes and advance our understanding of its pathophysiology.

Keywords: Axon initial segment; Cognitive flexibility; Morris water maze; Node of Ranvier; Type 2 diabetes; db/db mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology