05 October 2007

Alzheimer's = Type 3 Diabetes?

An interesting study out of Northwestern raises the possibility that Alzheimer's is a third type of diabetes. PhysOrg has a summary:

Now scientists at Northwestern University have discovered why brain insulin signaling -- crucial for memory formation -- would stop working in Alzheimer’s disease. They have shown that a toxic protein found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, rendering those neurons insulin resistant. (The protein, known to attack memory-forming synapses, is called an ADDL for “amyloid ß-derived diffusible ligand.”)

With other research showing that levels of brain insulin and its related receptors are lower in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the Northwestern study sheds light on the emerging idea of Alzheimer’s being a “type 3” diabetes.
This leads me to suggest that the same dietary changes that seem to fend off insulin resistance - decrease in overall carbohydrate intake, slight reduction in snacking, total caloric reduction - would have a prophylactic benefit for Alzheimer's as well.

This is quite possibly why calorie restriction seems to reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer's. This study published back in '06 "found that 30% CR resulted in reduced contents of Abeta1-40 and Abeta1-42 peptides in the temporal cortex of Squirrel monkeys, relative to control (CON) fed monkeys." To de-geek that just a little bit, there was less amyloid-beta (Abeta), which means less of the neuropathology it causes in Alzheimer's patients.

This is all relatively fresh research and as such should be taken with several grains of salt (unless you have high blood pressure;) however, since my few readers are at the age where they can still positively impact their lives with dietary changes I thought I'd pass it along. Not that I'm likely to improve my diet, good benefits near-term and far- notwithstanding.

via MindHacks