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Intranasal insulin improves cognitive function in patients with type 2 diabetes
Date:11/13/2013

BOSTON In recent years, the link between type 2 diabetes and dementia has become widely recognized. Older individuals with diabetes develop Alzheimer's disease at an earlier age, and are more likely to develop vascular dementia than people who do not have diabetes.

Now, a small proof-of-concept study led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) offers promise of a new treatment for this widespread problem. Currently published on-line in the journal Diabetes Care, the study results show that a single dose of intranasal insulin can help improve cognitive function in patients with diabetes.

"We know that diabetes accelerates brain aging," explains first author Vera Novak, MD, PhD, an investigator in the Department of Neurology at BIDMC, who conducted this research as a faculty member in BIDMC's Department of Medicine. "If we consider that there are more than 45 million people with diabetes in the U.S. alone and that older adults are the fastest growing segment of the diabetes population, we realize what an extremely serious problem we're facing."

In the brain, insulin helps to regulate signaling and connections among neurons and also regulates vascular functions. Central insulin receptors are abundant and yet are mostly dependent upon insulin transport through the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, inadequate insulin delivery may affect perfusion and cortical activity in brain regions associated with high-energy demands, such as cognitive networks.

"Previous studies had suggested that augmenting cerebral insulin may enhance cognitive function," says Novak, an Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Intranasal administration delivers insulin directly to the brain, bypassing the blood-brain barrier and reaching receptors in multiple brain regions within minutes after administration.

In this pilot study, the authors tested whether similar effects would be observed in pati
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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