University Of Tasmania
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Abdominal obesity and brain atrophy in type 2 diabetes mellitus

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 14:46 authored by Rachel ClimieRachel Climie, Moran, C, Michele CallisayaMichele Callisaya, Christopher BlizzardChristopher Blizzard, James SharmanJames Sharman, Alison VennAlison Venn, Phan, TG, Beare, R, Forbes, J, Nicholas BlackburnNicholas Blackburn, Srikanth, V

Aim: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is associated with gray matter atrophy. Adiposity and physical inactivity are risk factors for T2D and brain atrophy. We studied whether the associations of T2D with total gray matter volume (GMV) and hippocampal volume (HV) are dependent on obesity and physical activity.

Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we measured waist-hip ratio (WHR), body mass index (BMI), mean steps/day and brain volumes in a community dwelling cohort of people with and without T2D. Using multivariable linear regression, we examined whether WHR, BMI and physical activity mediated or modified the association between T2D, GMV and HV.

Result: There were 258 participants with (mean age 67±7 years) and 302 without (mean age 72 ± 7 years) T2D. Adjusting for age, sex and intracranial volume, T2D was independently associated with lower total GMV (p = 0.001) and HV (p < 0.001), greater WHR (p < 0.001) and BMI (p < 0.001), and lower mean steps/day (p =  0.002). After adjusting for covariates, the inclusion of BMI and mean steps/day did not significantly affect the T2D-GMV association, but WHR attenuated it by 32% while remaining independently associated with lower GMV (p < 0.01). The T2D-HV association was minimally changed by the addition of BMI, steps/day or WHR in the model. No statistical interactions were observed between T2D and measures of obesity and physical activity in explaining brain volumes.

Conclusions: Abdominal obesity or its downstream effects may partially mediate the adverse effect of T2D on brain atrophy. This requires confirmation in longitudinal studies.


Publication title

PLoS One





Article number









Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Public Library of Science

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2015 Climie et al. Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified

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