New research suggests that insulin resistance, which results in elevated blood levels of both insulin and glucose (blood sugar), may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle gave insulin infusions to 16 middle-aged and older adults with normal blood sugar levels. The infusions caused their bodies to mimic insulin resistance temporarily. For comparison, the same participants were infused with a simple salt solution. The results? Even moderately boosting insulin levels caused a significant rise in indicators of central nervous system inflammation.
Researchers believe such inflammation plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s by promoting amyloid plaques in the brain, a hallmark of the disease. If so, control of insulin and blood sugar levels may help prevent yet another chronic condition besides diabetes and heart disease.
Archives of Neurology, October 2005.