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The role of GLP-1 in neuronal activity and neurodegeneration

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Vitamins and Hormones
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)331-354
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Type 2 diabetes has been identified as a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). The underlying mechanism behind this unexpected link is most likely linked to the observed desensitization of insulin receptors in the brain. Insulin acts as a growth factor in the brain and supports neuronal repair, dendritic sprouting, and differentiation. Several drugs have been developed to treat type 2 diabetes which re-synthesize insulin receptors and may be of use to prevent neurodegenerative developments in AD. The incretin glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a hormone that facilitates insulin release under high blood sugar conditions. Interestingly, GLP-1 also has very similar growth factor like properties as insulin, and has been shown to protect neurons from toxic effects. In preclinical studies, GLP-1 and longer lasting analogues reduce apoptosis, protect neurons from oxidative stress, induce neurite outgrowth, protect synaptic plasticity and memory formation from the detrimental effects of β-amyloid, and reduce plaque formation and the inflammation response in the brains of mouse models of AD. An advantage of GLP-1 is that it does not affect blood sugar levels in nondiabetic people. Furthermore, recent research has shown that some GLP-1 analogues can cross the blood-brain barrier, including two that are on the market as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Therefore, GLP-1 analogues show great promise as a novel treatment for AD or other neurodegenerative conditions.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.