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article imageAlzheimer's study finds link between diabetes and dementia

By Marcus Hondro     May 13, 2015 in Health
A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found a link between diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease. A high-level of blood sugar glucose increases levels of a protein called amyloid, a cause of Alzheimer's, researchers found.
Increased levels of amyloids
Published this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the study was conducted on mice and discovered that the level of the amyloid beta toxins is increased in those with high blood sugar. The amyloid beta toxins attach themselves to the brain and prevent neurons from firing, leading to dementia.
Lead author, Shannon Macauley said young mice without amyloid beta toxins, or amyloid plaques, in their brain began to form them when their glucose levels were doubled. Their level of amyloid plaques went up by 20 percent, while in older mice who had already developed the toxic amyloid plagues, their level increased by 40 percent. The more the blood glucose level increased, the more the level of amyloid beta toxins increased.
"Our results suggest that diabetes, or other conditions that make it hard to control blood sugar levels, can have harmful effects on brain function and exacerbate neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Macauley said. “The link we’ve discovered could lead us to future treatment targets that reduce these effects.”
Diabetes drug and Alzheimer's
A research manager at the Alzheimer's Society of the U.K., Dr. Clare Walton, said the research shows that managing glucose levels could help prevent Alzheimer's. She also said the research may lead to the development of a new test to determine if a drug now used for diabetes could help those with dementia.
"This latest research provides a potential insight into why this link exists and indicates that keeping levels of blood glucose within the normal range may help to reduce the production of the toxic amyloid protein, a known contributor to Alzheimer’s disease," Dr. Walton said.
"Alzheimer’s Society is currently funding a clinical trial to test whether a common diabetes drug that lowers blood glucose can also be beneficial to people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease."
Dr. Walton said they "don't want people living with diabetes to worry they will develop dementia, we would advise people who are concerned to contact their GP." She added the "best way to reduce the risk of developing dementia is to eat a healthy balanced diet, take plenty of exercise and not smoke."
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