ABSTRACT The rates of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) continue to parallel the rising rates of obesity in the United States, increasingly affecting adolescents as well as adults. Hippocampal and frontal lobe reductions have been found in older adults with type 2 diabetes, and we sought to ascertain if these brain alterations were also present in obese adolescents with T2DM. In a cross-sectional study we compared MRI-based regional brain volumes of 18 obese adolescents with T2DM and 18 obese controls without evidence of marked insulin resistance. Groups were matched on age, sex, school grade, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, body mass index, and waist circumference. Relative to obese controls, adolescents with T2DM had significantly reduced hippocampal and prefrontal volumes, and higher rates of global cerebral atrophy. Hemoglo-bin A1c, an index of long-term glycemic control, was inversely associated with prefrontal volume and positively associ-ated with global cerebral atrophy (both p < 0.05). Brain integrity is negatively impacted by T2DM already during ado-lescence, long before the onset of overt macrovascular disease. Paralleling the findings of greater vascular and renal complications among obese adolescents with severe insulin resistance and T2DM relative to their age-matched peers with type 1 diabetes, we find clear evidence of possible brain complications. Our findings call for aggressive and early intervention to limit the negative impact of obesity-associated insulin resistance leading to T2DM on the developing brains of adolescents.
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