Altered odor-induced brain activity as an early manifestation of cognitive decline in patients with Type 2 diabetes

Zhou Zhang, Bing Zhang, Xin Wang, Xin Zhang, Qing X. Yang, Zhao Qing, Jiaming Lu, Yan Bi, Dalong Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Type 2 diabetes is reported to be associated with olfactory dysfunction and cognitive decline. However, whether and how olfactory neural circuit abnormalities involve cognitive impairment in diabetes remains uncovered. This study thus aimed to investigate olfactory network alterations and the associations of odor-induced brain activity with cognitive and metabolic parameters in type 2 diabetes. Participants with normal cognition, including 51 patients with type 2 diabetes and 41 control subjects without diabetes, underwent detailed cognitive assessment, olfactory behavior tests, and odor-induced functional MRI measurements. Olfactory brain regions showing significantly different activation between the two groups were selected for functional connectivity analysis. Compared with the control subjects, patients with diabetes demonstrated significantly lower olfactory threshold score, decreased brain activation, and disrupted functional connectivity in the olfactory network. Positive associations of the disrupted functional connectivity with decreased neuropsychology test scores and reduced pancreatic function were observed in patients with diabetes. Notably, the association between pancreatic function and executive function was mediated by olfactory behavior and olfactory functional connectivity. Our results suggested the alteration of olfactory network is present before clinically measurable cognitive decrements in type 2 diabetes, bridging the gap between the central olfactory system and cognitive decline in diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)994-1006
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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