We investigated whether type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and the presence of cognitive impairment are associated with altered cerebral blood flow (CBF). Forty-one participants with and thirty-nine without T2DM underwent 3-Tesla MRI, including a quantitative technique measuring (macrovascular) blood flow in the internal carotid artery and an arterial spin labeling technique measuring (microvascular) perfusion in the grey matter (GM). Three analysis methods were used to quantify the CBF: a region of interest analysis, a voxel-based statistical parametric mapping technique, and a 'distributed deviating voxels' method. Participants with T2DM exhibited significantly more tissue with low CBF values in the cerebral cortex and the subcortical GM (3.8-fold increase). The latter was the only region where the hypoperfusion remained after correcting for atrophy, indicating that the effect of T2DM on CBF, independent of atrophy, is small. Subcortical CBF was associated with depression. No associations were observed for CBF in other regions with diabetes status, for carotid blood flow with diabetes status, or for CBF or flow in relation with cognitive function. To conclude, a novel method that tallies total 'distributed deviating voxels' demonstrates T2DM-associated hypoperfusion in the subcortical GM, not associated with cognitive performance. Whether a vascular mechanism underlies cognitive decrements remains inconclusive.
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