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A Stress Syndrome Prototype Reflects Type 3 Diabetes and Ischemic Stroke Risk: The SABPA Study

  • malan, leoné
  • hamer, mark
  • von känel, roland
  • van wyk, roelof d.
  • sumner, anne e.
  • nilsson, peter m.
  • lambert, gavin w.
  • steyn, hendrik s.
  • badenhorst, casper j.
  • malan, nico t.
Publication Date
Feb 18, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/biology10020162
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Type 3 diabetes (T3D) accurately reflects that dementia, e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, represents insulin resistance and neurodegeneration in the brain. Similar retinal microvascular changes were observed in Alzheimer’s and chronic stressed individuals. Hence, we aimed to show that chronic stress relates to T3D dementia signs and retinopathy, ultimately comprising a Stress syndrome prototype reflecting risk for T3D and stroke. A chronic stress and stroke risk phenotype (Stressed) score, independent of age, race or gender, was applied to stratify participants (N = 264 / aged 44 ± 9 years) into high stress risk (Stressed, N = 159) and low stress risk (non-Stressed, N = 105) groups. We determined insulin resistance using the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR), which is interchangeable with T3D, and dementia risk markers (cognitive executive functioning (cognitiveexe-func) / telomere length / waist circumference (WC), neuronal glia injury / neuron-specific enolase/NSE, S100B). Retinopathy was determined in the mydriatic eye. The Stressed group had greater incidence of HOMA-IR in the upper quartile (≥5), larger WC, poorer cognitiveexe-func control, shorter telomeres, consistently raised neuronal glia injury, fewer retinal arteries, narrower arteries, wider veins and a larger optic cup/disc ratio (C/D) compared to the non-Stressed group. Furthermore, of the stroke risk markers, arterial narrowing was related to glaucoma risk with a greater C/D, whilst retinal vein widening was related to HOMA-IR, poor cognitiveexe-func control and neuronal glia injury (Adjusted R2 0.30 / p ≤ 0.05). These associations were not evident in the non-Stressed group. Logistic regression associations between the Stressed phenotype and four dementia risk markers (cognitiveexe-func, telomere length, NSE and WC) comprised a Stress syndrome prototype (area under the curve 0.80 / sensitivity/specificity 85%/58% / p ≤ 0.001). The Stress syndrome prototype reflected risk for HOMA-IR (odds ratio (OR) 7.72) and retinal glia ischemia (OR 1.27) and vein widening (OR 1.03). The Stressed phenotype was associated with neuronal glia injury and retinal ischemia, potentiating glaucoma risk. The detrimental effect of chronic stress exemplified a Stress syndrome prototype reflecting risk for type 3 diabetes, neurodegeneration and ischemic stroke.

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