Cerebral Blood Flow and Glucose Metabolism in Appetite-Related Brain Regions in Type 1 Diabetic Patients After Treatment With Insulin Detemir and NPH Insulin

A randomized-controlled crossover trial

  1. Michaela Diamant, MD, PHD1
  1. 1Diabetes Center/Department of Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Nuclear Medicine & PET Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Internal Medicine, Groene Hart Ziekenhuis, Gouda, the Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, VU University, and the Department of Internal Medicine/Endocrine Section, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  1. Corresponding author: Larissa W. van Golen, l.vangolen{at}


OBJECTIVE To test the hypothesis that insulin detemir, which is associated with less weight gain than other basal insulin formulations, exerts its weight modulating effects by acting on brain regions involved in appetite regulation, as represented by altered cerebral blood flow (CBF) or cerebral glucose metabolism (CMRglu).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Twenty-eight male type 1 diabetic patients (age 36.9 ± 9.7 years, BMI 24.9 ± 2.7 kg/m2, A1C 7.5 ± 0.6%) successfully completed a randomized crossover study, consisting of two periods of 12-week treatment with either insulin detemir or NPH insulin, both in combination with prandial insulin aspart. After each treatment period, patients underwent positron emission tomography scans to measure regional CBF and CMRglu.

RESULTS After 12 weeks, A1C, daily insulin doses, fasting insulin, and blood glucose levels were similar between treatments. Insulin detemir resulted in body weight loss, whereas NPH insulin induced weight gain (between-treatment difference 1.3 kg; P = 0.02). After treatment with insulin detemir relative to NPH insulin, CBF was higher in brain regions involved in appetite regulation, whereas no significant difference in CMRglu was observed.

CONCLUSIONS Treatment with insulin detemir versus NPH insulin resulted in weight loss, paralleled by increased CBF in appetite-related brain regions in the resting state, in men with well-controlled type 1 diabetes. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that a differential effect on the brain may contribute to the consistently observed weight-sparing effect of insulin detemir.

  • Received January 13, 2013.
  • Accepted July 10, 2013.

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This Article

  1. Diabetes Care
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