Alzheimer’s Disease Triggers Diabetes? Messes With Brain And Interferes With Insulin Management, Indicates Research

Alzheimer’s disease may trigger diabetes, indicates new research. The steadily degenerative mental condition has been found to impair insulin signaling in the brain, increasing chances of developing diabetes.

Previous research has indicated a strong link between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. However, the most common form of dementia could, in fact, be a precursor to diabetes. The mental disorder, which robs the brain’s ability to perform even basic memory tasks, could be setting up people to develop diabetes since it messes with the part of the brain that governs the insulin. In other words, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may be more susceptible to diabetes, found a research conducted on mice.


Numerous researchers have suggested that diabetes may be responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease. The reasoning behind the research is fairly simple. Low levels of insulin found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease suggest that diabetes occurs earlier and the mental disorder comes later. Moreover, daily insulin spray seemed to alleviate the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, reported Bel Marra Health. Many patients were reportedly better at solving memory problems after the insulin spray, indicating memory functions improved significantly. In other words, insulin resistance, which is a trademark feature in diabetes, was linked to poor processing of sugar in the brain. Incidentally, insulin is vital to the human brain as it helps to ferry signals between cells.

New research, however, suggests Alzheimer’s disease impairs insulin signaling in the portion of the brain responsible for regulating metabolism. This makes a person with Alzheimer’s more likely to develop diabetes, reported Science Daily.


The researchers tested their hypothesis on mice with Alzheimer’s and realized they had developed resistance to insulin in the hypothalamus. Insulin resistance is essentially a precursor to type II diabetes. The area in the brain which Alzheimer’s diseases messes with is critical for the regulation of nutrients such as fatty acids and glucose. Interestingly, the region is also responsible for the management of amino acids in tissues including muscle, liver, and fat.

The mice also showed elevated levels of a particular group of amino acids in the blood which acted as a biomarker of impaired brain insulin signaling, reported First Post. Speaking about the findings, lead author Christoph Buettner, associate professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, U.S., said,

“This is the first study to suggest that Alzheimer’s disease pathology increases susceptibility to diabetes due to impaired insulin signaling in the hypothalamus. Our research provides a rationale that therapies developed to improve insulin signaling in the brain may reduce the likelihood that a patient with Alzheimer’s disease develops diabetes.”

This is a critical realization about how Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes influence each other, and the research proves that the mental disorder might in fact be a culprit, added co-author Sam Gandy, professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“Our findings represent a turning point in the understanding of the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease, type II diabetes and insulin resistance. Compelling and unexpected results such as Dr. Buettner’s are driving a complete re-evaluation of how these diseases interact. Now that we have disease genes for dementia and diabetes, those genes are our ground zero, and the challenge is to work out all the steps and missteps between the gene and the patient and then to find interventions that cure those missteps.”

Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder that can also be fatal. It continually ravages the brain. While most associate the disease with memory loss, it steadily destroys the brain’s ability to learn, reason, make judgments, and communicate. A person suffering from the disease has an increasingly difficult time carrying out daily activities.


While Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes is the seventh. A better understanding about the two and their relation is critical for development of therapies.

[Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images]