Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Ekblad: The background for our study is that the metabolic syndrome and diabetes have been shown to increase the risk for cognitive decline and dementia. Also, insulin resistance is thought to play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer´s disease. In addition, intranasal insulin administration is being studied as a promising treatment for Alzheimer´s disease. Previous studies indicate that both gender and APOE epsilon 4 genotype modulate the effects of insulin on cognition.
Our main findings are that insulin resistance is associated with poorer verbal fluency, but only in women. Our population-based study consisted of adults from 30-97 years of age and we had nearly 6000 participants. Age did not modulate the association of insulin resistance and cognition, which means that our results apply even to young adults. We also found that insulin resistance associated with poorer verbal fluency only in non-carriers of the APOE epsilon 4 genotype.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Ekblad: Based on our results and on previous studies on the subject, attention should be drawn to individuals at risk for insulin resistance already in early adulthood. It is likely that simple lifestyle interventions such as physical exercise and a healthier diet would have a positive effect also on cognitive skills. Lifestyle interventions could possibly be better achieved if also the risk of cognitive decline would be brought up with the patient.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Ekblad: More longitudinal studies should be conducted where especially the effects of insulin resistance on cognition would be studied, and where both gender and APOE epsilon 4 genotype differences would be addressed.
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Laura Ekblad, MD, researcher (2015). Insulin Resistance Linked To Poor Verbal Fluency in Women MedicalResearch.com