The Effect of Diabetes Mellitus on Apoptosis in Hippocampus: Cellular and Molecular Aspects

Akram Sadeghi, Javad Hami, Shahnaz Razavi, Ebrahim Esfandiary, Zahra Hejazi


Background: Diabetes mellitus is associated with cognitive deficits in humans and animals. These deficits are paralleled by neurophysiological and structural changes in brain. In diabetic
animals, impairments of spatial learning, memory, and cognition occur in association with distinct changes in hippocampus, a key brain area for many forms of learning and memory and are
particularly sensitive to changes in glucose homeostasis. However, the multifactorial pathogenesis of diabetic encephalopathy is not yet completely understood. Apoptosis plays a crucial role in diabetes‑induce neuronal loss in hippocampus.

Methods: The effects of diabetes on hippocampus and cognitive/behavioral dysfunctions in experimental models of diabetes are reviewed, with a focus on the negative impact on increased neuronal apoptosis and related cellular and molecular mechanisms.

Results: Of all articles that were assessed, most of the experimental studies clearly showed that diabetes causes neuronal apoptosis in hippocampus through multiple mechanisms, including oxidative stress, inhibition of caspases, disturbance in expression of apoptosis regulator genes, as well as deficits in mitochondrial function. The balance between pro‑apoptotic and anti‑apoptotic signaling may determine the neuronal apoptotic outcome in vitro and in vivo models of experimental diabetes.

Conclusions: Dissecting out the mechanisms responsible for diabetes‑related changes in the hippocampal cell apoptosis helps improve treatment of impaired cognitive and memory functions
in diabetic individuals.

Keywords: Apoptosis, central nervous system complication, diabetes mellitus, hippocampus

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