Study shows metformin use slows cognitive decline and reduces incident dementia in older adults with diabetes

Posted on September 27, 2020

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Source: American Diabetes Association

OBJECTIVE Type 2 diabetes (diabetes) is characterized by accelerated cognitive decline and higher dementia risk. Controversy exists regarding the impact of metformin, which is associated with both increased and decreased dementia rates. The objective of this study was to determine the association of metformin use with incident dementia and cognitive decline over 6 years in diabetes compared with those not receiving metformin and those without diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Prospective observational study of N = 1,037 community-dwelling older participants without dementia aged 70–90 years at baseline (the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study). Exclusion criteria were dementia, major neurological or psychiatric disease, or progressive malignancy. Neuropsychological testing measured cognitive function every 2 years; a battery of tests measured executive function, memory, attention/speed, language, and visuospatial function individually. These were used to determine the measure of global cognition. Incident dementia was ascertained by a multidisciplinary panel. Total brain, hippocampal, and parahippocampal volumes were measured by MRI at baseline and 2 years (n = 526). Data were analyzed by linear mixed modeling, including the covariates of age, sex, education, BMI, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, smoking, and apolipoprotein Eε4 carriage.

RESULTS Of n = 1,037, 123 had diabetes; 67 received metformin (DM+MF) and were demographically similar to those who did not (DM-noMF) and participants without diabetes (no-DM). DM+MF had significantly slower global cognition and executive function decline compared with DM-noMF. Incident dementia was significantly higher in DM-noMF compared with DM+MF (odds ratio 5.29 [95% CI 1.17–23.88]; P = 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS Older people with diabetes receiving metformin have slower cognitive decline and lower dementia risk. Large randomized studies in people with and without diabetes will determine whether these associations can be attributed to metformin.