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J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 Sep;15(1):29-44.

Limited Alzheimer-type neurodegeneration in experimental obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02903, USA.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with brain insulin resistance and insulin deficiency, whereas Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is associated with peripheral insulin resistance. This study assesses the degree to which T2DM causes AD-type neurodegeneration. In a C57BL/6 mouse model of obesity and T2DM, we characterized the histopathology, gene expression, and insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-receptor binding in temporal lobe. High fat diet (HFD) feeding for 16 weeks doubled mean body weight, caused T2DM, and marginally reduced mean brain weight. These effects were associated with significantly increased levels of tau, IGF-I receptor, insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1), IRS-4, ubiquitin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and 4-hydroxynonenol, and decreased expression of beta-actin. HFD feeding also caused brain insulin resistance manifested by reduced BMAX for insulin receptor binding, and modestly increased brain insulin gene expression. However, HFD-fed mouse brains did not exhibit AD histopathology, increases in amyloid-beta or phospho-tau, or impairments in IGF signaling or acetylcholine homeostasis. Obesity and T2DM cause brain atrophy with insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and cytoskeleton degradation, but the absence of many features that typify AD suggests that obesity and T2DM may contribute to, but are not sufficient to cause AD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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