Alzheimer’s a Form of Diabetes?
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