Researchers have discovered why diabetes may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to new animal studies, type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease via affecting brain function.
Chronically high blood sugar impairs memory and changes elements of working memory networks in rodents, according to a study from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“Diabetes is a substantial risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s unclear why,” research author and associate professor of psychology James Hyman said.
In a university news release, Hyman said, “We show that a basic component of diabetes, hyperglycemia, affects brain function in ways that are similar to what is observed in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease models.”
“This is the first evidence that hyperglycemia-induced changes in brain activity are similar to what is seen in Alzheimer’s disease systems,” Hyman added.
Working with rats, the researchers discovered that type 2 diabetes causes the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex, which are both involved in memory formation and retrieval, to become “over-connected, or hypersynchronized.”
These two brain areas, which are impaired early in Alzheimer’s disease, were overcommunicating with each other when they needed to obtain proper information and perform a task, creating errors, according to the researchers.
“We know that synchronization is critical for the brain’s many sections to work together. But, as we’re learning more and more these days, the key to neuronal synchronization is that it must occur at the appropriate time and under control,” Hyman added.
“Sometimes, there’s just too much ‘talking’ between particular places, and we believe this contributes to memory issues, among other things,” Hyman explained.
He believes that Alzheimer’s sufferers may have over-connection in parts of the brain that should be flexible.
“We’re finding indications of that in real-time in the models in our study at these crucial periods to accomplish the task,” Hyman added.
Animal research does not necessarily yield the same outcomes in people.
The research was just published in the journal Communications Biology.
The Mayo Clinic has further information about Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
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