Research Explains Alzheimer’s Link to Diabetes; Shows Protective Effect of Low-Fat Diet

University of California – Los Angeles

BACKGROUND: Insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) is a protein known to play a role in eliminating amyloid peptides that cause destructive plaques and tangles in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Until now, little has been known about the cellular and molecular regulation of IDE.

FINDINGS: Using animal models and human tissue, the research team 1) identified a shortfall of IDE protein in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients; 2) found a cause-effect relationship between insulin signaling and increased production of IDE, and 3) demonstrated that a low-fat diet high in fish and soy can increase production of IDE.

IMPACT: The findings for the first time explain the association between insulin-resistant Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and demonstrate the ability to manipulate levels of the protective IDE protein through diet.

AUTHOR: The lead author was Greg M. Cole, professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA , associate director of the UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and associate director of the Geriatric Research and Education and Clinical Center at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Sepulveda.

JOURNAL: The Journal of Neuroscience, Dec. 8, 2004.

FUNDERS: National Institutes of Health and the UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

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