Link Discovered Between Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease

Healthcare professionals may soon be able to double dip and use diabetes drugs to also treat Alzheimer’s disease, and vice versa.

Healthcare professionals may soon be able to double dip and use diabetes drugs to also treat Alzheimer’s disease, and vice versa.

Furthermore, researchers from the University of Aberdeen discovered that Alzheimer’s disease could lead to diabetes — trumping the theory that only diabetes could occur prior to Alzheimer’s.

The paper, published in the journal Diabetologia, outlined that the drugs currently used to control glucose levels in diabetes can also mitigate the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s.

The reason for this is that, for the first time, dementia-related complications within the brain were found to trigger changes in glucose handling — and eventually diabetes.

Bettina Platt, PhD, collaborated with her Alzheimer’s research team and Mirela Delibegovic’s diabetes research team to investigate why the two diseases were so commonly found together older patients.

Both research leaders noticed that increased levels of a gene associated with toxic protein production in the brain not only caused Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, but also led to the development of diabetic complications.

The team thought it prudent to explore the impact of lifestyle factors in dementia, since until now, researchers assumed obese people were likely to get type 2 diabetes and then develop dementia.

According to Platt, “Many people are unaware of the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, but the fact is that around 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease also have some form of diabetes or disturbed glucose metabolism. This is hugely relevant as Alzheimer’s is in the vast majority of cases not inherited, and lifestyle factors and comorbidities must therefore be to blame.”

“This study provides a new therapeutic angle into Alzheimer’s disease and we now think that some of the compounds that are used for obesity and diabetic deregulation might potentially be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients as well. The good news is that there are a number of new drugs available right now which we are testing to see if they would reverse both Alzheimer’s and diabetes symptoms. We will also be able to study whether new treatments developed for Alzheimer’s can improve both, the diabetic and cognitive symptoms,” authors concluded.