Scientists from the Joslin Diabetes Center have found that while a person’s brain contains significant amounts of cholesterol, diabetics may lack the sufficient amount needed — which affects critical brain functions.
The researchers noted that cholesterol is produced within the brain itself, and that the recent findings may provide further reasoning as to why there are many cerebral complications associated with diabetes, including depression, memory loss and cognitive dysfunction.
For the study, the investigators examined gene activity in the brain’s hypothalamus among diabetic mice. The results showed that the animals’ eating genes significantly changed. Moreover, the researchers discovered that there was also an alteration among the subjects’ cholesterol production genes.
Through further examinations of the mice, the scientists discovered the there was a reduction in SREBP-2 — a main controller of cholesterol metabolism. As a result, this decreased cholesterol production in the brain and also lowered the amount of cholesterol in cell membranes — which are important for neuron communication.
C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., one of the study’s investigators, said that this research is another reason why diabetics should learn how to better manage their blood sugar levels.
More than 23 million children and adults in the U.S. suffer from diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.