Obesity-Associated Metabolic Disease & Brain Health Research | NYU Langone Health

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Department of Psychiatry Research Obesity-Associated Metabolic Disease & Brain Health Research

Obesity-Associated Metabolic Disease & Brain Health Research

In NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry, our scientists study how conditions such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease may negatively impact the brain and whether these effects can be reversed.

Under the direction of Antonio Convit, MD, our researchers use neurocognitive testing and neuroimaging techniques such as MRI and PET scans to assess brain structure and function. We also use retinal vessel diameter measurement, a noninvasive means of determining brain microvasculature.

As a result of our most recent research, we found an association between insulin resistance and impaired cerebrovascular reactivity in adults who are obese. Our researchers also discovered that improving physical fitness and insulin function in adolescents may help to reduce inflammation, possibly preventing cardiovascular disease and improving cerebrovascular health later in life.

Our research group was also integral to developing Banishing Obesity and Diabetes in Youth (the BODY project), which ran in New York City public schools from 2007 to 2012 to help prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in high school students and evaluated more than 4,000 students.

Clinical Research

Our clinical researchers are determining whether brain abnormalities related to diabetes and obesity are reversible.

Modifiable Cardiovascular Factors Linking Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

We are conducting a longitudinal study comparing the brain health of people who are obese who have type 2 diabetes and are undergoing bariatric surgery with a group of nonsurgical people who are obese and also have type 2 diabetes. We are evaluating central nervous system impairments, memory deficits, hippocampal atrophy, and reductions in cerebral glucose uptake in regions of the brain that are vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as decreased cerebral blood flow in surgical patients before their procedure and one year after. The same variables are being measured in nonsurgical patients at the same time intervals. The goal is to determine how significant weight loss from bariatric surgery in people with type 2 diabetes leads to brain improvement and how this recovery is tempered by sex and genetics.

We anticipate that the study may result in the development of prevention strategies targeting modifiable vascular risk factors that likely contribute to an increased risk of dementia in people with type 2 diabetes. We also hope to extrapolate our findings to behavioral weight loss and brain health.

For more information about this clinical evaluation study, please contact Dr. Convit at antonio.convit@nyulangone.org or 212-263-7565. View additional study details.

Current Grants

Current funding includes a five-year National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging grant: Modifiable Cardiovascular Factors Linking Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease; R01AG055624.

Research Training

Our researchers offer training in neurocognitive testing to NYU Grossman School of Medicine students, as well as graduate students from NYU who are pursuing a master’s or doctorate in psychology. Trainees gain hands-on experience during our neurometabolic research studies.

Research Faculty

Our research faculty are experts in how metabolic disease affects the brain.

Antonio Convit, MD
Alan M. Jacobson, MD
Ricardo S. Osorio, MD

Contact Us

For more information about our research on the effect of obesity-associated metabolic disease on the brain, please contact Dr. Convit at antonio.convit@nyulangone.org or 212-263-7565.

Recent Publications

Our researchers publish in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Our most recent publications are below.

Does obesity-associated insulin resistance affect brain structure and function of adolescents differentially by sex?

Gabay, Andrea; London, Stephanie; Yates, Kathy F; Convit, Antonio

Psychiatry research. Neuroimaging. 2022 Jan ; 319:111417

Lower extremity MRI following 10-week supervised exercise intervention in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Brown, Ryan; Sharafi, Azadeh; Slade, Jill M; Convit, Antonio; Davis, Nathan; Baete, Steven; Milton, Heather; Mroczek, Kenneth J; Kluding, Patricia M; Regatte, Ravinder R; Parasoglou, Prodromos; Rao, Smita

BMJ open diabetes research & care. 2021 09 ; 9:

The Neutrophil to Lymphocyte Ratio Is Associated With the Risk of Subsequent Dementia in the Framingham Heart Study

Ramos-Cejudo, Jaime; Johnson, Andrew D; Beiser, Alexa; Seshadri, Sudha; Salinas, Joel; Berger, Jeffrey S; Fillmore, Nathanael R; Do, Nhan; Zheng, Chunlei; Kovbasyuk, Zanetta; Ardekani, Babak A; Bubu, Omonigho M; Parekh, Ankit; Convit, Antonio; Betensky, Rebecca A; Wisniewski, Thomas M; Osorio, Ricardo S

Frontiers in aging neuroscience. 2021 ; 13:773984

Obesity impacts brain metabolism and structure independently of amyloid and tau pathology in healthy elderly

Pegueroles, Jordi; Pané, Adriana; Vilaplana, Eduard; Montal, Víctor; Bejanin, Alexandre; Videla, Laura; Carmona-Iragui, María; Barroeta, Isabel; Ibarzabal, Ainitze; Casajoana, Anna; Alcolea, Daniel; Valldeneu, Silvia; Altuna, Miren; de Hollanda, Ana; Vidal, Josep; Ortega, Emilio; Osorio, Ricardo; Convit, Antonio; Blesa, Rafael; Lleó, Alberto; Fortea, Juan; Jiménez, Amanda

Alzheimer's & dementia : diagnosis, assessment & disease monitoring. 2020 ; 12:e12052

Cognitive functions among predominantly minority urban adolescents with metabolic syndrome

Mangone, Alexander; Yates, Kathy F; Sweat, Victoria; Joseph, Adriana; Convit, Antonio

Applied neuropsychology. Child. 2018 Apr-Jun; 7:157-163

Lifestyle and vascular risk effects on MRI-based biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease: a cross-sectional study of middle-aged adults from the broader New York City area

Mosconi, Lisa; Walters, Michelle; Sterling, Joanna; Quinn, Crystal; McHugh, Pauline; Andrews, Randolph E; Matthews, Dawn C; Ganzer, Christine; Osorio, Ricardo S; Isaacson, Richard S; De Leon, Mony J; Convit, Antonio

BMJ open. 2018 03 23; 8:e019362

Asian Adolescents with Excess Weight are at Higher Risk for Insulin Resistance than Non-Asian Peers

Elsamadony, Ahmed; Yates, Kathy F; Sweat, Victoria; Yau, Po Lai; Mangone, Alex; Joseph, Adriana; Fierman, Arthur; Convit, Antonio

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017 11 ; 25:1974-1979

Insulin resistance among obese middle-aged is associated with decreased cerebrovascular reactivity

Frosch, Olivia H; Yau, Po Lai; Osorio, Ricardo S; Rusinek, Henry; Storey, Pippa; Convit, Antonio

Neurology. 2017 Jul 18; 89:249-255