Insulin Resistance in Women May Indicate Risk of Cognitive Decline

HealthDay News — A higher homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR) score may be an early marker for an increased risk of cognitive decline in women, according to a study published in Diabetologia.

Laura L. Ekblad, MD, from Turku University in Finland, and colleagues evaluated the effect of insulin resistance and APOE*E4 genotype on cognitive function in a population-based study (5,935 participants, mean age 52.5 years). Insulin resistance was measured using HOMA-IR, while cognitive function was tested by word-list learning, word-list delayed-recall, categorical verbal fluency, and simple and visual-choice reaction-time tests.

The researchers found that higher HOMA-IR was associated with poorer verbal fluency in women (P < 0.0001), but not in men (P = 0.56). In APOE*E4-negative individuals, higher HOMA-IR was associated with poorer verbal fluency (P = 0.0003); this association was not seen in APOE*E4 carriers (P = 0.28). Overall, higher HOMA-IR was associated with a slower simple reaction time (P = 0.02).

“To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive, population-based study, including both young and middle-aged adults, to report that female sex impacts the association of HOMA-IR with verbal fluency,” the authors write.


  1. Ekblad LL et al. Diabetologia. 2015; doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3715-4.