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World J Diabetes. 2011 Apr 15;2(4):49-53. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v2.i4.49.

Age related changes in pancreatic beta cells: A putative extra-cerebral site of Alzheimer's pathology.

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  • 1Magdalena Maj, Aysegul Ilhan, Dashurie Neziri, Wolfgang Gartner, Department of Internal Medicine III, Division of Nephrology and Dialysis, Medical University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria.


Frequent concomitant manifestation of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been recently demonstrated by epidemiological studies. This might be due to functional similarities between β-cells and neurons, such as secretion on demand of highly specific molecules in a tightly controlled fashion. An additional similarity represents the age-related alteration of hyperphosphorylated tau in AD patients. Similarly, alterations have been identified in β-cells of T2DM patients. The islet amyloid polypeptide has been associated with β-cell apoptosis. As a consequence of increasing age, the accumulation of highly modified proteins together with decreased regenerative potential might lead to increasing rates of apoptosis. Moreover, reduction of β-cell replication capabilities results in reduction of β-cell mass in mammals, simultaneously with impaired glucose tolerance. The new challenge is to learn much more about age-related protein modifications. This can lead to new treatment strategies for reducing the incidence of T2DM and AD.


Age; Alzheimer’s disease; Hyperphosphorylated tau; Islet amyloid polypeptide; Pancreatic beta cells; Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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