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Alzheimer’s a Form of Diabetes?

separator Researchers have discovered that insulin production in the brain decreases significantly in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The insulin levels continue to drop as the disease progresses. This has led researchers to wonder whether Alzheimer’s might actually be a form of diabetes. The researchers also found that one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease—low levels of a substance called acetylcholine—is directly linked to the loss of insulin.

During the study, researchers analyzed the brain tissue of people who had been in various stages of Alzheimer’s disease and compared it to the brain tissue of people who didn’t have Alzheimer’s. They analyzed insulin and insulin receptor function in an area of the brain called the frontal cortex, which is strongly affected by Alzheimer’s. They discovered that as the severity of Alzheimer’s increased, the brain’s ability to respond to insulin decreased.

These finding may lead to different ways to treat Alzheimer’s, using insulin and insulin-like growth factors to slow its progression.

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, November 2005
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