INTRODUCTION: In type 1 diabetes increased risk of severe hypoglycaemia is associated with high angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity. We tested in healthy humans the hypothesis that this association is explained by the reduced ability of subjects with high ACE activity to maintain normal cognitive function during hypoglycaemia. METHODS: Sixteen healthy volunteers selected by either particularly high or low serum ACE activity were subjected to hypoglycaemia (plasma glucose 2.7 mmol/L). Cognitive function was assessed by choice reaction tests. RESULTS: Despite a similar hypoglycaemic stimulus in the two groups, only the group with high ACE activity showed significant deterioration in cognitive performance during hypoglycaemia. In the high ACE group mean reaction time (MRT) in the most complex choice reaction task was prolonged and error rate (ER) was increased in contrast to the low ACE group. The total hypoglycaemic symptom response was greater in the high ACE group than in the low ACE group (p=0.031). There were no differences in responses of counterregulatory hormones or in concentrations of substrates between the groups. CONCLUSION: Healthy humans with high ACE activity are more susceptible to cognitive dysfunction and report higher symptom scores during mild hypoglycaemia than subjects with low ACE activity.
Keywords: Adult; Cognition; Cognition Disorders; Cohort Studies; Electroencephalography; Evoked Potentials, Auditory; Fatty Acids, Nonesterified; Female; Humans; Hypoglycemia; Male; Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A; Renin-Angiotensin System