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Neurol Sci. 2016 Jan;37(1):9-16. doi: 10.1007/s10072-015-2386-8. Epub 2015 Oct 6.

Cerebral insulin, insulin signaling pathway, and brain angiogenesis.

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Department of Geriatrics, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China.
Department of Neurology, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, 410008, China.
Department of Neurology, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China.


Insulin performs unique non-metabolic functions within the brain. Broadly speaking, two major areas of these functions are those related to brain endothelial cells and the blood-brain barrier (BBB) function, and those related to behavioral effects, like cognition in disease states (Alzheimer's disease, AD) and in health. Recent studies showed that both these functions are associated with brain angiogenesis. These findings raise interesting questions such as how they are linked to each other and whether modifying brain angiogenesis by targeting certain insulin signaling pathways could be an effective strategy to treat dementia as in AD, or even to help secure healthy longevity. The two canonical downstream pathways involved in mediating the insulin signaling pathway, the phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K), and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades, in the brain are supposed to be similar to those in the periphery. PI3K and MAPK pathways play important roles in angiogenesis. Both are involved in stimulating hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) in angiogenesis and could be activated by the insulin signaling pathway. This suggests that PI3K and MAPK pathways might act as cross-talk between the insulin signaling pathway and the angiogenesis pathway in brain. But the cerebral insulin, insulin signaling pathway, and the detailed mechanism in the connection of insulin signaling pathway, brain angiogenesis pathway, and healthy aging or dementias are still mostly not clear and need further studies.


Angiogenesis; Brain; Cerebral insulin; Insulin signaling pathway

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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