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

ch share hyperglycemia as a common pathogenic factor.

Many studies have focused on altered insulin signaling in the brain as a possible mechanism for the association between Alzheimers disease and diabetes but researchers paid much less attention to the direct affects of increased blood glucose levels on brain function and the pathogenesis of Alzheimers, explains lead author Joseph R. Burdo, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral researchers in Schuberts lab and now an assistant professor at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

To get at the bottom of the question why diabetes predisposes people to Alzheimers disease as they age, the Salk researchers Schubert, Burdo and Qi Chen, in collaboration with diabetes expert Nigel Calcutt, a professor in UCSDs Department of Pathology, induced diabetes in young mice, whose genetic background predisposes them to acquire the symptoms of Alzheimers with old age.

These mice suffered damage to blood vessels well before any overt signs of Alzheimers disease such as nerve cell death or the acquisition of amyloid deposits, the hallmark of the disease, could be detected in their brains. Further experiments revealed that the vascular damage was due to the overproduction of free radicals, resulting in oxidative damage to the cells lining the brains blood vessels.

While all people have a low level of amyloid circulating in their blood, in diabetics there may be a synergistic toxicity between the amyloid and high level of blood glucose that is leading to the problems with proper blood vessel formation, says Burdo.

An earlier study by Schubert and his team has revealed that the exposure of cells to amyloid causes free radical production prompting a clinical trial investigating whether the antioxidant and free radical scavenger vitamin E would be beneficial for the treatment of Alzheimers disease.

While this initial trial was only marginally successful, ongoing work in Schube
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Contact: Gina Kirchweger
Kirchweger@salk.edu
858-453-410-01340
Salk Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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