The Relationship Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes

Society for Neuroscience - Inside Neuroscience: The Relationship Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes

Inside Neuroscience: The Relationship Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes


Regions of the “social brain,” including the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), temporoparietal junction (TPJ), posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), amygdala, and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Source: Sarah Jayne Blackmore, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2008.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting over 50 million people worldwide, with rates expected to triple in the next 30 years. The disease is characterized by aggregates of amyloid-beta outside neurons and tangles of hyperphosphorylated tau within neurons. More recently, evidence suggests a disturbance in glucose metabolism in the Alzheimer’s brain as well, although whether this is a cause or symptom of the disease remains unclear. Type 2 diabetes — in which blood glucose levels are elevated — increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease about two-fold.

A better understanding of the relationship between these two diseases may yield novel therapies. At the Neuroscience 2019 press conference “Untangling the Link Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease,” researchers shared new insights into how glucose metabolism problems and Alzheimer’s pathology could be related, disrupted, and potentially fixed.