Glucocorticoid treatment and impaired mood, memory and metabolism in people with diabetes: the Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes Study

the Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes study investigators, Rebecca M Reynolds, Javier Labad, Alison V Sears, Rachel M Williamson, Mark W J Strachan, Ian J Deary, Gordon D O Lowe, Jackie F Price, Brian R Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Both type 2 diabetes and glucocorticoid therapy are highly prevalent. Although people with type 2 diabetes may be more susceptible to adverse effects of glucocorticoids, and it is recommended that glucocorticoid therapy is avoided for fear of worsening glycaemic control, the extent to which this advice is followed and the consequences when glucocorticoids are prescribed are poorly documented. The aim was to assess the characteristics of people with type 2 diabetes prescribed glucocorticoids in a real-world setting and to quantify resulting adverse effects.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional cohort study.
METHODS: Cardiometabolic variables, body fat distribution, cognitive function and mood were studied in the 1066 participants of the Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes Study, of whom 162 (15%) were taking systemic, topical or inhaled glucocorticoids.
RESULTS: Glucocorticoid therapy was more common in women and in smokers but was not avoided in patients with diabetic complications or cardiovascular risk factors. People taking glucocorticoids were more centrally obese with slightly higher HbA1c and total serum cholesterol but were no more likely to have hepatic steatosis or hypertension. Glucocorticoid treatment was associated with substantially lower mood and greater anxiety. Women taking glucocorticoid therapy were twice as likely to report depressive symptoms compared with those not taking treatment. Glucocorticoid therapy was also associated with poorer cognitive function among those with subclinical atherosclerosis, as indicated by low ankle-brachial pressure index. CONCLUSIONS: Glucocorticoids are prescribed commonly for people with type 2 diabetes despite being associated with adverse indices of glycaemic control, cardiovascular risk factors, mood and cognitive function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-868
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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