Insulin Resistance Predicts Cognitive Decline: An 11-Year Follow-up of a Nationally Representative Adult Population Sample


The aim of this study was to examine whether insulin resistance, assessed by HOMA of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), is an independent predictor of cognitive decline.


The roles of HOMA-IR, fasting insulin and glucose, HbA1c, and hs-CRP as predictors of cognitive performance and its change were evaluated in the Finnish nationwide, population-based Health 2000 Health Examination Survey and its 11-year follow-up, the Health 2011 study (n = 3,695, mean age at baseline 49.3 years, 55.5% women). Categorical verbal fluency, word-list learning, and word-list delayed recall were used as measures of cognitive function. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed and adjusted for previously reported risk factors for cognitive decline.


Higher baseline HOMA-IR and fasting insulin levels were independent predictors of poorer verbal fluency performance (P = 0.0002 for both) and of a greater decline in verbal fluency during the follow-up time (P = 0.004 for both). Baseline HOMA-IR and insulin did not predict word-list learning or word-list delayed recall scores. There were no interactions between HOMA-IR and apolipoprotein E 4 (APOE4) genotype, hs-CRP, or type 2 diabetes on the cognitive tests. Fasting glucose and hs-CRP levels at baseline were not associated with cognitive functioning.


Our results show that higher serum fasting insulin and insulin resistance predict poorer verbal fluency and a steeper decline in verbal fluency during 11 years in a representative sample of an adult population. Prevention and treatment of insulin resistance might help reduce cognitive decline later in life.

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