INTRODUCTION: High basal renin-angiotensin system (RAS) activity is associated with increased risk of severe hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes. We tested whether this might be explained by more pronounced cognitive dysfunction during hypoglycaemia in patients with high RAS activity than in patients with low RAS activity. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Nine patients with type 1 diabetes and high and nine with low RAS activity were subjected to hypoglycaemia and euglycaemia in a cross-over study using an intravenous insulin infusion protocol. Cognitive function, electroencephalography, auditory evoked potentials and hypoglycaemic symptoms were recorded. RESULTS: At a hypoglycaemic nadir of 2.2 (SD 0.3) mmol/L the high RAS group displayed significant deterioration in cognitive performance during hypoglycaemia in the three most complex reaction time tasks. In the low RAS group, hypoglycaemia led to cognitive dysfunction in only one reaction time task. The high RAS group reported lower symptom scores during hypoglycaemia than the low RAS group, suggesting poorer hypoglycaemia awareness. CONCLUSION: High RAS activity is associated with increased cognitive dysfunction and blunted symptoms during mild hypoglycaemia compared to low RAS activity. This may explain why high RAS activity is a risk factor for severe hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes.
Keywords: Adult; Blood Glucose; Cognition; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1; Electroencephalography; Evoked Potentials, Auditory; Female; Humans; Hypoglycemia; Insulin; Male; Middle Aged; Psychomotor Performance; Renin-Angiotensin System