- By Lynda de Widt
Researchers have known for several years that being overweight and having Type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. But they’re now beginning to talk about another form of diabetes: Type 3 diabetes. This form of diabetes is associated with Alzheimer''s.
Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Bu are in the downloads.
The team went on to describe how it all works in the neurons. They found that the APOE4 protein produced by the gene, can bind more aggressively to insulin receptors on the surfaces of neurons than its normal counterpart, APOE3. As if playing a game of musical chairs, the APOE4 protein outcompetes the normal protein and blocks the receptor. APOE4 goes on to do lasting damage to brain cells. After blocking the receptor, the sticky APOE4 protein begins to clump and become toxic. Further, once the protein enters the interior of the neuron, the clumps get trapped within the cell’s machinery, impeding the receptors from returning to the neuron surface to do their work. The insulin signal processing gets increasingly more impaired, starving brain cells.
“This study has furthered our understanding of the gene that’s the strongest genetic risk factor known for Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Bu, who adds that, ultimately, the finding may personalize treatment for patients. “For instance, an insulin nasal spray or a similar treatment may be significantly more helpful for patients who don’t have the APOE4 gene. Patients who have the gene may need additional medications to help prevent cognitive decline.”
Co-first authors of this for 1 last update 15 Jul 2020 study are:Co-first authors of this study are:
- Na Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
- Chia-Chen Liu, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
In addition to Dr. Bu, other researchers on the team include:
- Alexandra Van Ingelgom
- Yuka Martens, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
- Cynthia Linares, Mayo Clinic
- Joshua Knight, Mayo Clinic
- Patrick Sullivan, Ph.D., Duke University School of Medicine
- Meghan Painter, Ph.D.
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