Background: Diabetes is a risk factor for the development of cognitive impairment and possibly for accelerated progression to Alzheimer disease (AD) and other dementias, though the trajectory of cognitive decline in general and in specfic cognitive domains by diabetes is unclear. Methods: Using the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center's Uniform Data Det (NACC-UDS) to identify cohorts of elders with normal cognition (N = 7,663) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI, N = 4,114), we compared overall cognitive composite and domain specific sub-scores and their progression over time between diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. Results: Diabetes was more common among those with MCI (14.7%) than among subjects who were cognitively normal (11.7%). In subjects who were cognitively normal, baseline cognitive composite scores, attention, and executive function sub-scores were lower in diabetics than non-diabetics (by 0.098, 0.066, and 0.015 points, respectively). Over time, cognitive composite score showed subtle worsening in non-diabetics (0.025 points every 6 months), with an additional worsening of 0.01 points every 6 months in diabetics compared to non-diabetics. In the MCI groups, baseline cognitive composite as well as attention and executive domain sub-scores were lower in diabetics than non-diabetics (by 0.078, 0.092, and 0.032 points, respectively). Over time, cognitive composite (by 0.103 points every 6 months) and all domain specific sub-scores showed subtle worsening in non-diabetics, but diabetics had significantly slower worsening than non-diabetics on both cognitive composite (by 0.028 points) and domain specific sub-scores. Discussion: Among elders, diabetes may be associated with lower cognitive performance, primarily in non-memory domains. However it is not associated with continued worsening, suggesting a static deficit with minimal memory involvement. This data suggest that diabetes may contribute more to a vascular profile of cognitive impairment than a profile more typical of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2198-2204
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • cognitive decline
  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • longitudinal analysis
  • mild cognitive impairment


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