Decreased white and gray matter volumes have been reported in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), but the effects of hyperglycemia on white matter integrity have not been quantitatively assessed during brain development. We performed diffusion tensor imaging, using two complimentary approaches—region-of-interest and voxelwise tract-based spatial statistics—to quantify white matter integrity in a large retrospective study of T1DM youth and control participants. Exposure to chronic hyperglycemia, severe hyperglycemic episodes, and severe hypoglycemia, as defined in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), were estimated through medical records review, HbA1c levels, and interview of parents and youth. We found lower fractional anistropy in the superior parietal lobule and reduced mean diffusivity in the thalamus in the T1DM group. A history of three or more severe hyperglycemic episodes was associated with reduced anisotropy and increased diffusivity in the superior parietal lobule and increased diffusivity in the hippocampus. These results add microstructural integrity of white matter to the range of structural brain alterations seen in T1DM youth and suggest vulnerability of the superior parietal lobule, hippocampus, and thalamus to glycemic extremes during brain development. Longitudinal analyses will be necessary to determine how these alterations change with age or additional glycemic exposure.
- Received May 25, 2012.
- Accepted July 25, 2012.
- © 2012 by the American Diabetes Association.
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