ObjectiveTo determine whether classes of diabetes medications are associated with cognitive health and dementia risk, above and beyond their glycemic control properties.
Research design and methodsFindings were pooled from 5 population-based cohorts: the Framingham Heart Study, the Rotterdam Study, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, the Aging Gene-Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study (AGES) and the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging (SALSA). Differences between users and non-users of insulin, metformin and sulfonylurea were assessed in each cohort for cognitive and brain MRI measures using linear regression models, and cognitive decline and dementia/AD risk using mixed effect models and Cox regression analyses, respectively. Findings were then pooled using meta-analytic techniques, including 3,590 individuals with diabetes for the prospective analysis.
ResultsAfter adjusting for potential confounders including indices of glycemic control, insulin use was associated with increased risk of new-onset dementia (pooled HR (95% CI) = 1.58 (1.18, 2.12);p = 0.002) and with a greater decline in global cognitive function (β = -0.014±0.007;p = 0.045). The associations with incident dementia remained similar after further adjustment for renal function and excluding persons with diabetes whose treatment was life-style change only. Insulin use was not related to cognitive function nor to brain MRI measures. No significant associations were found between metformin or sulfonylurea use and outcomes of brain function and structure. There was no evidence of significant between-study heterogeneity.
ConclusionsDespite its advantages in controlling glycemic dysregulation and preventing complications, insulin treatment may be associated with increased adverse cognitive outcomes possibly due to a greater risk of hypoglycemia.