Type 2 Diabetes, Skin Autofluorescence, and Brain Atrophy

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Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is associated with brain atrophy, but the mechanisms underlying this link are unknown. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) accumulate in T2DM, resulting in inflammation, oxidative stress, and protein cross-linking, which are known contributors to neurodegeneration. We aimed to study whether tissue AGE accumulation is associated with T2DM-related brain atrophy. We performed brain magnetic resonance imaging, cognitive tests, and noninvasive skin autofluorescence (SAF; a measure of tissue AGE levels) on people aged >55 years with and without T2DM. Multivariable linear regression was used to study the relationships among T2DM, SAF, and gray matter volume (GMV). There were 486 people included in the study. T2DM was associated with greater SAF. Greater SAF, T2DM, and cognitive impairment were each associated with lower GMV independently of age, sex, and total intracranial volume. SAF partially mediated the association between T2DM and GMV. Longitudinal studies may help confirm whether tissue AGE accumulation is associated with brain atrophy in T2DM.

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