Antonio Convit, MD

Antonio ConvitDr. Antonio Convit is a Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine and the Director of BODyLab and The BODY Project.

Diabetes, Cognition, and the Brain

Due to the rampant obesity epidemic, type 2 diabetes is also increasing at an alarming rate in the USA. In addition to the ill effects of diabetes on the eyes, kidneys, and limbs, there is now evidence that the brain is also affected early in the disease. The goal of this research is to increase our understanding of how the brain is affected so as to be in a position to develop treatment strategies to try to protect the brain during diabetes.

The long-term goal of the proposed work is to increase the understanding of the mechanisms for how the brain is impaired in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) and insulin resistance (IR). By demonstrating a mechanism by which the brain is affected in T2DM, this study will create the rationale for the use of pharmacological targets to improve cerebral blood flow and vascular reactivity as well as decrease inflammation as a way of protecting the brain of mid-life individuals with T2DM and IR.

Obesity, Insulin Resistance and Brain in Adolescence

There are over 60 million obese individuals in the United States and the rate of obesity is rising at an alarming rate. The rate of overweight and obesity among children stands at over 30%. Obesity leads to insulin resistance, which is a progressive pre-diabetic condition, and there is emerging evidence that both type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance may damage the brain. The goal of this work is to carefully evaluate the nature of the brain abnormalities that may be related to obesity and insulin resistance among adolescents.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in middle-aged individuals has been consistently associated with deficits in recent memory, attention, executive function, and cognitive efficiency. Insulin resistance (IR) is a progressive pre-diabetic condition. There is strong preliminary evidence that similar cognitive problems are also present among obese adolescents with IR relative to matched non-insulin resistant groups. The purpose of the proposed study is to rigorously establish the nature of the cognitive impairments present among obese adolescents with IR and by means of a systematic and standardized neuropsychological and MRI-approach to further characterize the brain substrates for those abnormalities. In addition, he proposes to ascertain whether, relative to matched lean adolescents, obese adolescents without insulin resistance have detectable cognitive impairments. Obesity and IR are associated with inflammation. Thus, Dr. Convit will also assess whether inflammation mediates some of the associations between IR (and/or obesity) and brain dysfunction in adolescence. We seek to critically examine, in three groups of adolescents, the hypotheses that in insulin resistance there are cross-sectional associations between measures of IR and measures of cognition and structural and functional brain integrity. We propose that obese adolescents with IR will have larger reductions than obese adolescents without IR relative to matched (other than on obesity) lean adolescents.  The proposed work will provide key data documenting brain involvement in metabolic disorders associated with obesity in childhood, which will serve as the foundation for future work.


Representative Publications

  1. Obese Adolescents with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Have Hippocampal and Frontal Lobe Volume Reductions; Neuroscience And Medicine. 2011 Mar 1; 2 (1) :34-42 ; Bruehl, Hannah; Sweat, Victoria; Tirsi, Aziz; Shah, Bina; Convit, Antonio
  2. Obesity-mediated inflammation may damage the brain circuit that regulates food intake; Brain Research. 2011 Feb 10; 1373 :101-9  Cazettes, Fanny; Cohen, Jessica I; Yau, Po Lai; Talbot, Hugues; Convit, Antonio
  3. Cognitive impairment in nondiabetic middle-aged and older adults is associated with insulin resistance. Journal Of Clinical And Experimental Neuropsychology. 2010 Jun; 32 (5) :487-93  Bruehl, H; Sweat, V; Hassenstab, J; Polyakov, V; Convit, Antonio