More evidence has been uncovered that Alzheimer’s disease may actually be a third form of diabetes, according to researchers from Northwestern University.

Insulin and insulin receptors in your brain are crucial for learning and memory, and it’s known that these components are lower in people with Alzheimer’s disease. In your brain, insulin binds to an insulin receptor at a synapse, which triggers a mechanism that allows nerve cells to survive and memories to form.

The Northwestern University researchers have found that a toxic protein in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients — called ADDL for “amyloid ß-derived diffusible ligand” — removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, and renders those neurons insulin resistant.

The findings suggest that ADDLs accumulate at the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease and thereby block memory function.

The process is currently thought to be reversible.

The researchers speculated that drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes, which also causes insulin resistance, may “supercede currently available Alzheimer’s drugs.”

The FASEB Journal August 24, 2007

Physorg.com September 26, 2007



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