Acute and chronic neuroinflammation is triggered by diabetic ketoacidosis in a rat model

Nicole Glaser, Steven Chu, Benjamin Hung, Luis Fernandez, Heike Wulff, Daniel Tancredi, Martha E. ODonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Cognitive decline is common in patients with type 1 diabetes and has been attributed to the effects of chronic hyperglycemia and severe hypoglycemia. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) has only recently been suspected to be involved in causing cognitive decline. We hypothesized that DKA triggers both acute and chronic neuroinflammation, contributing to brain injury. RESEARCH METHODS AND DESIGN: We measured concentrations of cytokines, chemokines and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) in serum and brain tissue lysates in juvenile rats during and after DKA (during acute DKA, 24 hours and 7 days after DKA), and compared these to healthy controls and hyperglycemic controls. We also measured cytokine, chemokine and MMP concentrations in serum and brain tissue of adult rats (70 days) that had experienced DKA as juveniles and compared these measurements to those of adult diabetic rats without exposure to DKA. RESULTS: During acute DKA in the juvenile rats, serum concentrations of CCL3, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1ß and MMP-9 were significantly increased. Serum concentrations of IL-2 and IL-17A increased 7 days after DKA recovery. In brain tissue lysates, concentrations of CCL3, CCL5, interferon (IFN)-γ and MMP-9 were significantly elevated during acute DKA. In adult rats that had DKA as juveniles (28 days previously), serum concentrations of IL-1ß and brain concentrations of IL-10 and IL-12p70 were elevated in comparison to diabetic rats without prior DKA. Composite scores for highly correlated cytokines and chemokines (mean z-scores for IL-10, IL-1ß, TNF-α, IL-17A, IFN-γ, CXCL-1 and CCL5) were also significantly elevated in adult rats with prior DKA. CONCLUSIONS: These data confirm that DKA causes acute systemic inflammation and neuroinflammation in a rat model. Importantly, the neuroinflammatory response triggered by DKA is long-lasting, suggesting the possibility that DKA-induced chronic neuroinflammation could contribute to long-term cognitive decline in individuals with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • brain edema
  • diabetes mellitus
  • diabetic ketoacidosis
  • type 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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