According to a University of Arizona study published in the scientific journal Neurology, high blood sugar levels could prove to be an early warning sign for Alzheimer’s disease. The study also showed that the link between high blood sugar levels and reduced brain metabolism exists regardless of whether the individual has diabetes or not. These results could have serious implications for early prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers led by Eric Reiman used medical imaging techniques to create 3D images of metabolic activity in the brain. The data involved over 124 non-diabetic adults, all identified genetically as at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The experiment was part of a larger research project conducted at the Institute of Phoenix, which is looking into a number of different risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
The team examined the blood sugar levels of individuals after a period of fasting, known as fasting serum glucose levels, and found patterns of reduced brain metabolism in particular brain regions.
“What we show is an association between elevated fasting serum glucose levels and a similar pattern of reduced metabolism in these same AD-related brain regions in cognitively healthy adults,” said Christine Burns, lead author of the study.
Alzheimer’s disease has previously been linked to both genetics and other factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. However, a link to elevated blood sugar levels could indicate that many more people are at risk than previously thought.