(HealthDay News) — A higher homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR) score may be an early marker for an increased risk for cognitive decline in women, according to a study published in Diabetologia.

Laura L. Ekblad, MD, from Turku University in Finland, and colleagues evaluated the effect of insulin resistance and APOE*E4 genotype on cognitive function in a population-based study (5,935 participants, mean age 52.5 years). 

Insulin resistance was measured using HOMA-IR, while cognitive function was tested by word-list learning, word-list delayed-recall, categorical verbal fluency and simple and visual-choice reaction-time tests.

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Higher HOMA-IR was associated with poorer verbal fluency in women (P<.0001), but not in men (P=.56), the researchers found. 

In APOE*E4-negative individuals, higher HOMA-IR was associated with poorer verbal fluency (P=.0003); this association was not seen in APOE*E4 carriers (P=.28). 

Overall, higher HOMA-IR was associated with a slower simple reaction time (P=.02).

“To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive, population-based study, including both young and middle-aged adults, to report that female sex impacts the association of HOMA-IR with verbal fluency,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Ekblad LL et al. Diabetologia. 2015;doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3715-4.