Brain oxidative stress and cognitive function in older adults with diabetes and pre-diabetes who are at risk for dementia

Camilla M. Hoyos, Stephen Colagiuri, Ashlee Turner, Catriona Ireland, Sharon L. Naismith, Shantel L. Duffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Diabetes is an established risk factor for dementia. This study aimed to examine the relationship between various cognitive domains, brain oxidative stress and markers of diabetes in older adults at risk for dementia. Methods: Older adults at risk for dementia underwent comprehensive neuropsychological and medical assessment. At risk was defined as those with subjective and/or objective cognitive impairment. Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes were defined using American Diabetes Association definitions for fasting blood glucose and HbA1c. Brain oxidative stress as indicated by glutathione (GSH) was assessed via magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the anterior cingulate cortex. Results: One-hundred and forty-seven older adults completed a neuropsychological assessment and fasting blood sample with 63 also undergoing magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Those with pre-diabetes/diabetes according to FBG had impaired memory retention, set-shifting and response inhibition, compared to those with normal blood glucose. In contrast, there were no significant differences in any cognitive outcome using the HbA1c definition. Increasing glucose and HbA1c levels were associated with reduced GSH concentration in the anterior cingulate. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that in older adults at risk for dementia, having pre-diabetes or diabetes is associated with impaired memory and executive dysfunction. It also highlights the potential role of oxidative stress as a pathophysiological mechanism that may underpin the link between diabetes and cognitive dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109178
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalDiabetes Research and Clinical Practice
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Glutathione
  • Glycaemic function
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Oxidative stress
  • Subjective cognitive impairment


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