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Brain Res. 2002 Aug 16;946(2):221-31.

Hippocampal neuronal apoptosis in type 1 diabetes.

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Department of Pathology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Duration-related cognitive impairment is an increasingly recognized complication of type 1 diabetes. To explore potential underlying mechanisms, we examined hippocampal abnormalities in the spontaneously type 1 diabetic BB/W rat. As a functional assay of cognition, the Morris water maze test showed significantly prolonged latencies in 8-month diabetic rats not present at 2 months of diabetes. These abnormalities were associated with DNA fragmentation, positive TUNEL staining, elevated Bax/Bcl-x(L) ratio, increased caspase 3 activities and decreased neuronal densities in diabetic hippocampi. These changes were not caused by hypoglycemic episodes or reduced weight in diabetic animals. To explore potential mechanisms responsible for the apoptosis, we examined the expression of the IGF system. Western blotting and in situ hybridization revealed significant reductions in the expression of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGF-IR and IR preceding (2 months) and accompanying (8 months) the functional cognitive impairments and the apoptotic neuronal loss in hippocampus. These data suggest that a duration-related apoptosis-induced neuronal loss occurs in type 1 diabetes associated with cognitive impairment. The data also suggest that this is at least in part related to impaired insulin and/or IGF activities.

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