Brain injury with diabetes mellitus: evidence, mechanisms and treatment implications.
- Sherifa A Hamed
- Expert review of clinical pharmacology
OBJECTIVE To examine the effects of acute insulin-induced hypoglycemia on spatial cognitive abilities in adult humans with type 1 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Sixteen adults with type 1 diabetes underwent two counterbalanced experimental sessions: euglycemia (blood glucose 4.5 mmol/l [81 mg/dl]) and hypoglycemia (2.5 mmol/l [45 mg/dl]). Arterialized blood glucose levels were maintained using a hyperinsulinemic glucose clamp technique. During each session, subjects underwent detailed assessment of spatial abilities from the Kit of Factor-Referenced Cognitive Tests and two tests of general cognitive function. RESULTS Spatial ability performance deteriorated significantly during hypoglycemia. Results for the Hidden Patterns, Card Rotations, Paper Folding, and Maze Tracing tests were all impaired significantly (P < or = 0.001) during hypoglycemia, as were results for the Cube Comparisons Test (P = 0.03). The Map Memory Test was not significantly affected by hypoglycemia. CONCLUSIONS Hypoglycemia is a common side effect of insulin therapy in individuals with type 1 diabetes, and spatial abilities are of critical importance in day-to-day functioning. The deterioration in spatial abilities observed during modest experimental hypoglycemia provides novel information on the cerebral hazards of hypoglycemia that has potential relevance to everyday activities.