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Salk study links diabetes and Alzheimer's disease
Date:4/30/2008

LA JOLLA, CA Diabetic individuals have a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimers disease but the molecular connection between the two remains unexplained. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies identified the probable molecular basis for the diabetes Alzheimers interaction.

In a study published in the current online issue of Neurobiology of Aging, investigators led by David R. Schubert, Ph.D., professor in the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, report that the blood vessels in the brain of young diabetic mice are damaged by the interaction of elevated blood glucose levels characteristic of diabetes and low levels of beta amyloid, a peptide that clumps to form the senile plaques that riddle the brains of Alzheimers patients.

Although the damage took place long before the first plaques appeared, the mice suffered from significant memory loss and an increase in inflammation in the brain. Although the toxic beta amyloid peptide was first isolated from the brain blood vessels of Alzheimers patients, the contribution of pathological changes in brain vascular tissue to the disease has not been well studied, says Dave R. Schubert, Ph.D., professor and head of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory. Our data clearly describe a biochemical mechanism to explain the epidemiology, and identify targets for drug development.

Alzheimers and diabetes are two diseases that are increasing at an alarming rate within the U.S. population. Alzheimers affects one in 10 Americans over 65 years of age and nearly 50 percent of those over 85 years old. Similarly, 7 percent or approximately 20 million Americans have diabetes, with the vast majority of these individuals being over 60.

Recent epidemiological studies have shown that diabetic patients have a 30 to 65 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimers disease compared to non-diabetic individuals. The increased risk applies to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, whi
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Contact: Gina Kirchweger
Kirchweger@salk.edu
858-453-410-01340
Salk Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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