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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51132. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051132. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Cognitive functions in middle aged individuals are related to metabolic disturbances and aerobic capacity: a cross-sectional study.

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The Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism at Department of Infectious Disease, Rigshospitalet, The Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Metabolic disturbances may contribute to cognitive dysfunction in patients with type 2 diabetes. We investigated the relation between cognitive impairment and metabolic deteriorations, low physical fitness, low-grade inflammation and abdominal obesity in middle aged individuals.


We conducted a cross-sectional study including 40 to 65 year-old patients with type 2 diabetes and limited co morbidity (N = 56), age-matched individuals with impaired glucose tolerance (N = 56) as well as age-matched controls with normal glucose tolerance (N = 72). Specific cognitive functions were assessed with focus on verbal memory, processing speed, executive functions, and a composite overall mean score. Oral glucose tolerance test, VO(2)max test, systemic inflammation, DXA scanning and abdominal MRI were measured.


Multiple linear regression analyses adjusting for age, gender and verbal intelligence demonstrated that a low score in processing speed, executive functions and overall cognitive function were related to high fasting C-peptide, as well as low insulin sensitivity, beta-cell function and VO(2)max. Measurements of blood glucose, obesity and inflammation were not associated with cognitive function.


Low cognitive scores are seen in middle aged individuals with hyperinsulinemia, low insulin sensitivity, beta-cell function and low aerobic capacity. These findings emphasize the importance of appropriate lifestyle and not only blood glucose control in prevention of cognitive disability.

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