Hyperglycemia not hypoglycemia alters neuronal dendrites and impairs spatial memory.

posted Feb 11, 2011, 10:25 AM by John Paul Morrison   [ updated Feb 11, 2011, 11:22 AM ]
In this basic science, original research involving an animal model of diabetes and brain development, researchers compared control, hyperglycemic and intermittent hypoglycemic groups. The hyperglycemic, diabetic group was treated with sufficient insulin to maintain proper growth, but with blood glucose levels consistently above 11.1 mmol/L (diagnostic level for diabetes), or the same level of hyperglycemia as observed in typical adolescent children who were reported with the same HbA1c levels. The hypoglycemic group had normal blood glucose levels, except for intermittent episodes of hypoglycemia (blood glucose < 3.3 mmol/L, average 2.5 ± 0.21 mmol/L) induced by insulin, for three hours/day, three times a week - the type of hypoglycemia that clinicians are typically concerned about because this is much more common than hypoglycemia-induced seizures. 

Conclusion: Hyperglycemia, but not hypoglycemia, was associated with adverse effects on the brain polyol pathway activity, neuronal structural changes, and impaired long-term spatial memory. This finding suggests that the hyperglycemic component of diabetes mellitus has a greater adverse effect on brain functioning than does intermittent hypoglycemia.

Malone, J. I., Hanna, S., Saporta, S., Mervis, R. F., Park, C. R., Chong, L. and Diamond, D. M. (2008), Hyperglycemia not hypoglycemia alters neuronal dendrites and impairs spatial memory. Pediatric Diabetes, 9: 531–539. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5448.2008.00431.x
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