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High Blood Sugar May Cause Alzheimer’s Disease

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High blood sugar levels may not only cause diabetes, but also lead to Alzheimer’s disease, a study found that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer’s disease is less familiar. Diabetes patients have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In Alzheimer’s abnormal proteins aggregate to form plaques and tangles in the brain which progressively damage the brain and lead to severe cognitive decline.

Scientists already knew that glucose and its break-down products can damage proteins in cells via a reaction called glycation but the specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer’s was not understood.

A team of scientists discovered that in the early stages of Alzheimer’s glycation damages an enzyme called macrophage migration inhibitory factor which plays a role in immune response and insulin regulation. It appears that as Alzheimer’s progresses, glycation of these enzymes increases.


Kassaar O., et al., 2017, “Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor is subjected to glucose modification and oxidation in Alzheimer’s Disease,” Scientific Reports; 7: 42874. [Web Reference]

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