Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by impairing brain function, new animal research suggests.
A team from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas has shown that chronic hyperglycemia can alter memory and alter aspects of working memory networks in rodents.
“Diabetes is a major risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s unclear why,” said study author James Hyman, associate professor of psychology.
“We show that a central feature of diabetes, hyperglycemia, alters neuronal activity in a manner similar to what is observed in preclinical models of Alzheimer’s disease,” Hyman said in an academic press release.
“This is the first evidence showing that changes in neuronal activity due to hyperglycemia overlap with what is seen in Alzheimer’s systems,” Hyman said.
Working with rats, the research team found that two parts of the brain essential for forming and retrieving memories – the hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex – were “over-connected or hypersynchronized” with type 2 diabetes. .
When they needed to access correct information and complete a task, these two areas of the brain, which are affected early in Alzheimer’s disease, communicated too much with each other, causing errors, the researchers said.
“We know that synchrony is important for different parts of the brain to work together. But, we are finding more and more these days that the key to neural synchrony is that it has to happen at the right time, and that has to happen with control, ”Hyman said.
“Sometimes there are just too many ‘conversations’ between certain areas and we think that causes memory difficulties, among other things,” Hyman said.
He said it’s possible that Alzheimer’s patients have an excessive connection in certain areas of the brain where there should be flexibility.
“In the models in our study, we see real-time evidence of this at those critical times to get the job done,” Hyman added.
Animal research does not always produce the same results in humans.
The results were recently published in the journal Communications Biology.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, check out the Mayo Clinic.
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