According to a new study, Alzheimer’s and diabetes diseases are more related than everybody thought. Some researchers believe that Alzheimer’s could be a form of diabetes, because findings show that insulin production in the brain declines as Alzheimer’s disease advances.
Through a series of experiments, a group of researchers discovered that the brain produces insulin and that this substance produced by brains of patients with Alzheimer’s illness tends to fall below normal levels.
For the neuropathologist at Rhode Island Hospital and professor of pathology at Brown University Medical School, Suzanne M. de la Monte, insulin disappears early and dramatically in Alzheimer’s disease and many of the unexplained features of Alzheimer’s, such as cell death and tangles in the brain, appear to be linked to abnormalities in insulin signaling. This demonstrates that the disease is most likely a neuroendocrine disorder, or another type of diabetes.
During the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, brain levels of insulin and its related cellular receptors fall precipitously, as her group of researchers explained. They believe that Alzheimer’s might be a new form of diabetes since the evidence shows insulin levels continue to drop progressively as the Alzheimer’s disease becomes more severe.
The team led by de la Monte also found that low levels of acetylcholine are directly linked to this loss of insulin and insulin-like growth factor function in the brain. Acetylcholine is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers team autopsied the brain tissue of 45 patients diagnosed with different degrees of Alzheimer’s called Braak Stages and compared those tissues to samples taken from individuals with no history of the disease.