Insulin resistance is associated with lower intracranial arterial flow and cortical hypoperfusion in cognitively healthy middle-aged adults

Hoscheidt SM, Kellawan JM, Berman SE, Rivera L, Krause R, Oh JM, Turski P, Carlsson CM, Beeri MS, Asthana S, Rowley HA, Wieben O, Johnson SC, Schrage WG, Bendlin BB

Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. 2017 Jun;37(6):2249-2261. doi: 10.1177/0271678X16663214. Epub 2016 Jan 1.


Insulin resistance (IR) is associated with poor cerebrovascular health and increased risk for dementia. Little is known about the unique effect of IR on both micro- and macrovascular flow particularly in midlife when interventions against dementia may be most effective. We examined the effect of IR as indexed by the Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) on cerebral blood flow in macro- and microvessels utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) among cognitively asymptomatic middle-aged individuals. We hypothesized that higher HOMA-IR would be associated with reduced flow in macrovessels and lower cortical perfusion. One hundred and twenty cognitively asymptomatic middle-aged adults (57 ± 5 yrs) underwent fasting blood draw, phase contrast-vastly undersampled isotropic projection reconstruction (PC VIPR) MRI, and arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion. Higher HOMA-IR was associated with lower arterial blood flow, particularly within the internal carotid arteries (ICAs), and lower cerebral perfusion in several brain regions including frontal and temporal lobe regions. Higher blood flow in bilateral ICAs predicted greater cortical perfusion in individuals with lower HOMA-IR, a relationship not observed among those with higher HOMA-IR. Findings provide novel evidence for an uncoupling of macrovascular blood flow and microvascular perfusion among individuals with higher IR in midlife.


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