In a new study, researchers found a link of blood markers of diabetes with brain beta-amyloid accumulation among older people at risk of dementia.
The results suggest a link between Alzheimer’s pathology, lower levels of insulin, and lower insulin resistance.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Eastern Finland.
The deposition of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain is known to be one of the key elements of Alzheimer’s disease and can begin years or even decades before the disease progresses to the dementia stage.
Amyloid accumulation in the brain can be detected by PET scans.
Type 2 diabetes is a known risk factor for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, but the underlying mechanisms are still unknown.
Autopsy studies have found that diabetes is associated with small vessel pathology typical of vascular dementia, but not specifically of Alzheimer’s disease.
Insulin resistance, an indicator of a pre-diabetic state, has been linked to amyloid accumulation in cognitively normal middle-aged and late middle-aged individuals, but not in the older age groups.
In the study, the researchers examined the association of blood markers of diabetes with beta-amyloid accumulation detected in PET scans in 41 older people at risk of dementia.
They found slightly better insulin homeostasis in amyloid positive older individuals at risk of dementia.
The findings contrast with earlier findings, possibly due to the fact that this study population was at a high risk of cognitive decline.
The results could also suggest that in people with diabetes and vascular pathology, less amyloid accumulation in the brain may be needed to trigger the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Interestingly, no association was found for amyloid deposition with fasting glucose levels or HbA1c, which measures the average level of blood sugar.
This new study adds to the growing amount of data on the associations of insulin resistance and diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
The researchers hope to replicate the results in this study with larger populations and help gain further insight into the connections between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
One author of the study is Associate Professor Alina Solomon from the University of Eastern Finland.
The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
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