BACKGROUND. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a risk factor for dementia and structural brain changes. It remains to be determined whether transient insulin deprivation that frequently occurs in insulin-treated individuals with T1D alters brain function. METHODS. We therefore performed functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and neuropsychological testing at baseline and following 5.4 ± 0.6 hours of insulin deprivation in 14 individuals with T1D and compared results with those from 14 age-, sex-, and BMI-matched nondiabetic (ND) participants with no interventions. RESULTS. Insulin deprivation in T1D increased blood glucose, and β-hydroxybutyrate, while reducing bicarbonate levels. Participants with T1D showed lower baseline brain N-acetyl aspartate and myo-inositol levels but higher cortical fractional anisotropy, suggesting unhealthy neurons and brain microstructure. Although cognitive functions did not differ between participants with T1D and ND participants at baseline, significant changes in fine motor speed as well as attention and short-term memory occurred following insulin deprivation in participants with T1D. Insulin deprivation also reduced brain adenosine triphosphate levels and altered the phosphocreatine/adenosine triphosphate ratio. Baseline differences in functional connectivity in brain regions between participants with T1D and ND participants were noted, and on insulin deprivation further alterations in functional connectivity between regions, especially cortical and hippocampus-caudate regions, were observed. These alterations in functional connectivity correlated to brain metabolites and to changes in cognition. CONCLUSION. Transient insulin deprivation therefore caused alterations in executive aspects of cognitive function concurrent with functional connectivity between memory regions and the sensory cortex. These findings have important clinical implications, as many patients with T1D inadvertently have periods of transient insulin deprivation.
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