Childhood-onset type 1 diabetes is associated with neurocognitive deficits, but there is limited evidence to date regarding associated neuroanatomical brain changes and their relationship to illness variables such as age at disease onset. This report examines age-related changes in volume and T2 relaxation time (a fundamental parameter of magnetic resonance imaging that reflects tissue health) across the whole brain.RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—
Type 1 diabetes, N = 79 (mean age 20.32 ± 4.24 years), and healthy control participants, N = 50 (mean age 20.53 ± 3.60 years). There were no substantial group differences on socioeconomic status, sex ratio, or intelligence quotient.RESULTS—
Regression analyses revealed a negative correlation between age and brain changes, with decreasing gray matter volume and T2 relaxation time with age in multiple brain regions in the type 1 diabetes group. In comparison, the age-related decline in the control group was small. Examination of the interaction of group and age confirmed a group difference (type 1 diabetes vs. control) in the relationship between age and brain volume/T2 relaxation time.CONCLUSIONS—
We demonstrated an interaction between age and group in predicting brain volumes and T2 relaxation time such that there was a decline in these outcomes in type 1 diabetic participants that was much less evident in control subjects. Findings suggest the neurodevelopmental pathways of youth with type 1 diabetes have diverged from those of their healthy peers by late adolescence and early adulthood but the explanation for this phenomenon remains to be clarified.