Histological and cognitive alterations in adult diabetic rats following an episode of juvenile diabetic ketoacidosis: Evidence of permanent cerebral injury

Nicole Glaser, Jennifer Sasaki- Russell, Michael Cohen, Christopher Little, Martha E O'Donnell, Jeffrey Sall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) may cause subtle cognitive alterations in children but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Acute DKA is associated with reactive astrogliosis and microglial activation in a rat model. Whether these inflammatory changes permanently alter brain histology is unknown. We aimed to determine whether DKA results in permanent alterations in brain histology and whether these changes are associated with cognitive deficits in a rat model. We induced diabetes in juvenile rats with streptozotocin at 4 weeks of age. We induced DKA in one group (n = 21) at 5 weeks of age and compared this group to rats with diabetes without DKA episodes (n = 13). Beginning at 7 weeks, rats underwent a series of cognitive tests to evaluate memory. At 15 weeks, rat brains were harvested and examined using immunohistochemistry (IHC). In tests of novel object recognition and social recognition, both groups performed similarly, however, the DKA group performed more poorly in object-place recognition tests, suggesting alterations in hippocampal function. IHC studies demonstrated increased glial fibrillary acidic protein staining intensity in the hippocampus of DKA rats suggesting astrogliosis, and decreased NeuN positive cell counts in the cortex suggesting neuron loss. These studies demonstrate that DKA results in permanent alterations in brain microstructure in a rat diabetes model. These structural changes are associated with deficits in hippocampal function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-167
Number of pages7
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - May 22 2017



  • Associative memory
  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Hippocampus
  • Immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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