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Neuroscientists show insulin receptor signaling regulates structure of brain circuits
Date:6/18/2008

n insulin receptors are engaged and sending signals inside the neuron, dendritic growth is enhanced, specifically in response to visual stimulation.

In this, as in the findings about synaptic density, the team found that insulin receptor signaling regulates the form and function of brain circuits in response to incoming visual information. Another way to put this is that the receptor regulates brain circuits in response to "experience."

Possible Links to Disease

This suggests that insulin receptors in the brain may play a key role not only in the brain's development early in life, but also in disease processes that usually occur late in life. People with advanced diabetes suffer memory loss and cognitive deficits, possibly because insulin receptor signaling in the brain is disrupted, synaptic connections are lost and brain circuits don't work optimally.

In addition, other researchers have found a correlation between diminished insulin receptor signaling and Alzheimer's disease. Results of the Cold Spring Harbor team's research raise the question of whether deficits in learning and memory associated with Alzheimer's might be linked causally to decreased synaptic density as a consequence of lowered insulin receptor signaling. "We are a long way from knowing this for sure, but it's the direction in which our work now takes us," Dr. Cline said.


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Contact: Jim Bono
bono@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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