Type 2 diabetes is an independent risk factor for dementia conversion in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to new research.
This new study from Spain also found that adults with type 2 diabetes and MCI are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those who have MCI without diabetes.
Scientists from Vall d’Hebron Research Institute at the Autonomous University of Barcelona believe these findings could have significant clinical implications.
They report that it is the impairment of insulin signalling and the presence of inflammation related to hyperglycemia that plays an important role in Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
“Since these pathways are significantly activated in [type 2 diabetes patients], it is reasonable to propose diabetes as an accelerator of [Alzheimer’s disease] in predisposed patients,” said study author Rafael Simo, MD and colleagues.
In their study, the researchers analysed data from 101 people with type 2 diabetes and 101 people without, who were matched by age and gender. All the participants had MCI and were aged at least 60 years.
Those with type 2 diabetes had higher rates of conversion to dementia, although there were no between-group differences for dementia types.
The study team adjusted the findings to account for age, sex, hypertension (high blood pressure) and time of follow-up, with type 2 diabetes shown to be an independent risk factor for conversion to dementia.
“We provide evidence that [type 2 diabetes] is an accelerator of dementia in patients with [mild cognitive impairment],” the researchers wrote.
“Therefore, the identification of those patients most likely to develop dementia will be crucial for a personalized diabetes care.”
The findings have been published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications.

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