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Brain Res. 2006 Mar 3;1076(1):9-15. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

Hyperglycemic brain injury in the rat.

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Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


Children with diabetes onset before 5 years of age have reduced neurocognitive function. This problem has been attributed to hypoglycemia, a complication of insulin therapy. The eye, kidney, and nerve complications of diabetes (hyperglycemia) have been reduced by intensified insulin therapy which is associated with a 3-fold increase in severe hypoglycemia and therefore is not recommended for children less than 13 years of age. Since hyperglycemia is much more common than intermittent hypoglycemia during early childhood diabetes, it is important to determine if hyperglycemia affects brain growth and development. Rats were exposed to 4 weeks of either continuous hyperglycemia (diabetes) or intermittent (3 h, 3 times/week) hypoglycemia from 4 to 8 weeks of age. The brains of these animals were compared to those of similarly aged normal control animals. The cell number was increased, and the cell size reduced in the cortex of diabetic animals as assessed by DNA/wet weight of brain and protein/DNA content. Reduced amounts of protein, fatty acids, and cholesterol/microgram DNA also indicate smaller cells with reduced myelin content in the cortex of the diabetic animals. Histologic evaluation of these brains confirmed the biochemical findings. These observations require further confirmation and evaluation but indicate that continuous hyperglycemia may be more damaging than intermittent hypoglycemia to the developing brain. This is an important consideration for the management of diabetes mellitus in young children.

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