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Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2011 Oct;15(10):1153-62. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2011.600691. Epub 2011 Jul 12.

Targeting amyloid-beta by glucagon-like peptide -1 (GLP-1) in Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.

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  • 1University Hospital of Aarhus , Department of Medical Endocrinology, MEA, Nørrebrogade, Denmark.



Epidemiological evidence suggests an association between type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), in that one disease increases the risk of the other. T2DM and AD share several molecular processes which underlie the tissue degeneration in either disease. Disturbances in insulin signaling may be the link between the two conditions. Drugs originally developed for T2DM are currently being considered as possible novel agents in the treatment of AD.


This review discusses the potential role of glucagon-like peptide -1 (GLP-1) treatment in AD. GLP-1 receptors are expressed in areas of the brain important to memory and learning, and GLP-1 has growth-factor-like properties similar to insulin. A key neuropathological feature of AD is the accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aβ). In preclinical studies, GLP-1 and longer lasting analogues have been shown to have both neuroprotective and neurotrophic effects, and to protect synaptic activity in the brain from Aβ toxicity.


A convincing amount of evidence has shown a beneficial effect of GLP-1 agonist treatment on cognitive function, memory and learning in experimental models of AD. GLP-1 analogues may therefore be the new therapeutic agent of choice for intervention in AD.

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