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Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2018 Nov 13;9:663. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2018.00663. eCollection 2018.

Metabolic and Cognitive Outcomes of Subchronic Once-Daily Intranasal Insulin Administration in Healthy Men.

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Department of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
Endokrinologikum Ulm, Ulm, Germany.
Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany.
Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), Neuherberg, Germany.
Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases, Helmholtz Center Munich, University of Tübingen (IDM), Tübingen, Germany.


Insulin acts in the brain to limit food intake and improve memory function. We have previously shown that 8 weeks of intranasal insulin delivered in four daily doses of 40 IU decrease body weight and enhance word list recall. In the present study, we investigated the effect on body composition, endocrine parameters, and memory performance of 8 weeks of once-daily administration of 160 IU in healthy men. We assumed that intranasal insulin administered before nocturnal sleep, a period of relative metabolic inactivity that moreover benefits memory formation, would be superior to insulin delivery in the morning and placebo administration. After a 2-week baseline period, healthy male normal-weight subjects (mean age, 27.1 ± 0.9 years) received either placebo, 160 IU intranasal insulin in the morning, or 160 IU in the evening (n = 12 per group) for 8 consecutive weeks. Throughout the experiment, we measured body weight and body composition as well as circulating concentrations of glucose, insulin, adrenocorticotropin, cortisol, growth hormone, insulin-like growth-factor 1, adiponectin, and leptin. Declarative and procedural memory function was repeatedly assessed by means of, respectively, word list recall and word-stem priming. We found that neither morning nor evening insulin compared to placebo administration induced discernible changes in body weight and body composition. Delayed recall of words showed slight improvements by insulin administration in the evening, and serum cortisol concentrations were reduced after 2 weeks of insulin administration in the morning compared to the other groups. Results indicate that catabolic long-term effects of central nervous insulin delivery necessitate repetitive, presumably pre-meal delivery schedules. The observed memory improvements, although generally weaker than previously found effects, suggest that sleep after intranasal insulin administration may support its beneficial cognitive impact.


body composition; cognitive function; endocrine parameters; intranasal insulin; metabolism

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