Single dose of intranasal insulin can help improve cognitive function in diabetics

ANI| Updated: Nov 14, 2013, 15:37 PM IST

Washington: A new research has shown that a single dose of intranasal insulin can help improve cognitive function in patients with diabetes.

In recent years, the link between type 2 diabetes and dementia has become widely recognized. Older individuals with diabetes develop Alzheimer's disease at an earlier age, and are more likely to develop vascular dementia than people who do not have diabetes.

In the brain, insulin helps to regulate signalling and connections among neurons and also regulates vascular functions. Central insulin receptors are abundant and yet are mostly dependent upon insulin transport through the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, inadequate insulin delivery may affect perfusion and cortical activity in brain regions associated with high-energy demands, such as cognitive networks.

In this pilot study, the authors tested whether similar effects would be observed in patients with diabetes.

"We observed in both the healthy subjects and the patients with diabetes that there was an improvement in both verbal learning and visual-spatial learning and memory after they received the insulin," first author Vera Novak , MD, PhD, an investigator in the Department of Neurology at BIDMC said.

Through imaging tests, the investigators also learned that these improvements were dependent on the brain's vascular function.

Novak said that their findings provide preliminary evidence that intranasal insulin administration appears safe in older adults, and does not lead to low sugar levels.

Intranasal insulin may potentially improve learning and memory in older adults with and without diabetes, through vascular mechanisms.

The study is published in the journal Diabetes Care.