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Languren, Gabriela; Montiel, Teresa; Julio-Amilpas, Alberto; Massieu, Lourdes (2013)

NEURONAL DAMAGE AND COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT ASSOCIATED WITH HYPOGLYCEMIA: AN INTEGRATED VIEW

Neurochem. Int. 63(4):331-343
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The aim of the present review is to offer a current perspective about the consequences of hypoglycemia and its impact on the diabetic disorder due to the increasing incidence of diabetes around the world. The main consequence of insulin treatment in type 1 diabetic patients is the occurrence of repetitive periods of hypoglycemia and even episodes of severe hypoglycemia leading to coma. In the latter, selective neuronal death is observed in brain vulnerable regions both in humans and animal models, such as the cortex and the hippocampus. Cognitive damage subsequent to hypoglycemic coma has been associated with neuronal death in the hippocampus. The mechanisms implicated in selective damage are not completely understood but many factors have been identified including excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, zinc release, PARP-1 activation and mitochondrial dysfunction. Importantly, the diabetic condition aggravates neuronal damage and cognitive failure induced by hypoglycemia. In the absence of coma prolonged and severe hypoglycemia leads to increased oxidative stress and discrete neuronal death mainly in the cerebral cortex. The mechanisms responsible for cell damage in this condition are still unknown. Recurrent moderate hypoglycemia is far more common in diabetic patients than severe hypoglycemia and currently important efforts are being done in order to elucidate the relationship between cognitive deficits and recurrent hypoglycemia in diabetics. Human studies suggest impaired performance mainly in memory and attention tasks in healthy and diabetic individuals under the hypoglycemic condition. Only scarce neuronal death has been observed under moderate repetitive hypoglycemia but studies suggest that impaired hippocampal synaptic function might be one of the causes of cognitive failure. Recent studies have also implicated altered mitochondrial function and mitochondrial oxidative stress.