Researchers have known for a while that diabetics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease when compared to people who do not have diabetes. A new study from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom claims to have found the link between high blood sugar levels and Alzheimer’s.
For this study, researchers looked at something called glycation, a reaction process in the body in which glucose abnormally bonds to proteins. Brain samples of people with Alzheimer’s were compared to samples of people free of the disease. Through these samples, researchers found that in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, glycation damages the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) enzyme. The MIF enzyme plays a role in insulin regulation and in how certain brain cells respond to the beta-amyloid proteins that build up in the brain during Alzheimer’s, so damaging it can lead to more and faster buildup of the abnormal proteins.
As the disease progresses, the damage to the MIF enzymes only gets worse. Now that we know one way blood sugar and Alzheimer’s are connected, it may be possible to develop treatments and therapies to combat the destruction of the MIF enzyme and thus reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s in people with diabetes.