Type 2 diabetes treatment may inhibit progression of Alzheimer’s disease

According to researchers from the University of Southern California, treatment for type 2 diabetes might also be useful for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“This study may be the first to compare the rate of developing the pathology for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among people with normal glucose levels, with pre-diabetes, or people with type 2 diabetes – both treated and untreated,” researchers say.

In the study, researchers focused on the tau pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease. “When the tangles combine with sticky beta-amyloid plaques — a toxic protein — they disrupt signals between brain cells, impairing memory and other functions,” according to researchers.

Researchers analyzed the data of 1,289 participants from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, which included brain scans, memory tests, and biomarker tests for diabetes and vascular disease.

The team of researchers found that patients with untreated diabetes exhibited signs of Alzheimer’s disease 1.6 times faster compared to their counterpart. In 900 of the participants, 54 of them with type 2 diabetes were not being treated, while 67 received treatment.

“It is possible that the medicines for treating diabetes might make a difference in the progression of brain degeneration,” said Daniel Nation of the University of Southern California. “But it’s unclear how exactly those medications might slow or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, so that is something we need to investigate.”

The findings, researchers emphasize, demonstrate the vitalness of diagnosing diabetes or other metabolic diseases in adults in its early stages.

“Although this study is observational and therefore causality cannot be inferred, findings support the potential importance of treatment status in Alzheimer disease risk associated with type 2 diabetes,” the study concluded.

The findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care.