They discovered that excess blood glucose levels damaged essential enzymes in the brain that control inflammation found at the early stages of the disease.
It has been known for some time that people who have diabetes had a greater chance of developing Alzheimers Disease compared to the rest of the population.
Dr Omar Kassaar: “Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer’s disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets.”
Scientists for a long time knew that the breakdown of sugar and the by-products of it damages proteins in brain cells due to a reaction called “glycation”.
Using a technique to detect glycation the scientists studied people with Alzheimer’s alongside those without. They discovered in the early stages that glycation damages an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor) that regulates insulin and aids immune response.
MIF plays a role in the response of brains cells called glia that responds to build up of proteins in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists believe that the inhibition and reduction of MIF caused by glycation could be the trigger to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Rob Williams “Knowing this will be vital to developing a chronology of how Alzheimer’s progresses and we hope will help us identify those at risk of Alzheimer’s and lead to new treatments or ways to prevent the disease”.
Around 50 million people globally have Alzheimer’s disease, that figure is tipped to exceed 125 Million by the year 2050.