A new research conducted by Washington University School of Medicine has shed light on the link between diabetes and Alzheimer's and has uncovered a unique connection between the two.
The study provided further evidence that a disease that robs people of their memories may be affected by elevated blood sugar, according to scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The new study in mice shows that elevated glucose in the blood can rapidly increase levels of amyloid beta, a key component of brain plaques in Alzheimer's patients. The buildup of plaques is thought to be an early driver of the complex set of changes that Alzheimer's causes in the brain.
Lead author Dr. Shannon Macauley, asserted that their results suggested that diabetes, or other conditions that made it hard to control blood sugar levels, could have harmful effects on brain function and exacerbate neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and the link they had discovered could lead them to future treatment targets that reduce these effects.
The researchers showed that spikes in blood glucose increased the activity of neurons in the brain, which promoted production of amyloid beta. One way the firing of such neurons is influenced is through openings called KATP channels on the surface of brain cells. In the brain, elevated glucose causes these channels to close, which excites the brain cells, making them more likely to fire.
Macauley said that given that KATP channels are the way by which the pancreas secretes insulin in response to high blood sugar levels, it is interesting that they see a link between the activity of these channels in the brain and amyloid beta production and this observation opens up a new avenue of exploration for how Alzheimer's disease develops in the brain as well as offers a new therapeutic target for the treatment of this devastating neurological disorder.
The research is published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation